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4.10.2 Opioid detoxification

Opioid detoxification refers to a process of achieving abstinence rapidly. Patients who detox as a process of being excluded from treatment or who fall out of treatment or who undergo premature detoxification have particularly poor outcomes. As such, opioid detoxification should only take place under the supervision of those specialist teams outlined above and is beyond the scope of the NI Formulary

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist which can be initiated under specialist advice to support abstinence from opioids. It must not be commenced until the patient is opioid free for 7-10 days.

Naloxone is also used as the emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opioids. Naloxone is a prescription-only-medicine (POM) but regulations enable drug services to supply it without a prescription. And anyone can use it to save a life in an emergency. See here for further details