Traditional Chinese medicine-facilitated treatments may relieve anxiety symptoms during drug switching from methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone for treating opioid dependence

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This study investigated a 51-year-old married man with a history of heroin dependence who underwent methadone maintenance treatment for 7 years. He received traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)-facilitated treatments and switched from methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone. Strong anxiety symptoms were observed during the initial stage; therefore, we prescribed a combination of Chaihu-Shugan-San, Zhi Bai Di Huang and Chin-Gin-Kuan-Ming decoction as the major herbal synergic regimen to relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, anxiety and insomnia. During the treatment course, no precipitating withdrawal syndromes were noted, and the subject was gradually relieved of his anxiety symptoms through continual TCM treatments. In conclusion, TCM is effective in facilitating the switch from methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone and relieving anxiety symptoms. Therefore, focus on TCM-facilitated treatments for heroin dependence should be increased.

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