Research into treatment of dependence on opioids for pain


Opioids are strong painkillers that can lead to dependence if used long-term. More and more opioid is needed for the same effect and withdrawal symptoms occur if the opioids are not used. This can make it difficult to reduce. Opioid dependence has a negative effect on quality of life. The current opioids can then be converted to another, longer-acting opioid; suboxone or methadone. This is an opioid rotation. Scientific research has shown that this conversion can reduce pain medication dosage and side effects, decrease pain, and improve quality of life.

Suboxone and methadone are both currently prescribed for opioid conversion, and are both effective and safe. However, they have not yet been compared with each other. That is why in this study we compare the effects of suboxone and methadone on reducing opioid dependence, the analgesic effect, and on functioning and quality of life.

for who?

This study is for patients who have chronic pain and use a lot of opioids (strong painkillers). Your treating doctor can give you more information about the criteria you must meet.


You first come for a visit (intake) to the outpatient clinic of Radboud university medical center. We will then see if you can participate in the study. Your current medication will then be switched to suboxone or methadone during a two or three week admission. In this study, this choice is made by drawing lots.

  • Group 1: treatment with suboxone
  • Group 2: treatment with methadone

These groups are compared with each other.

There are a number of measurements for the research;

  • Questionnaires
  • Testing your attention and memory
  • Testing your sense of heat, cold, pressure and pain
  • Test how far you can walk
  • Genetica onderzoek (optioneel)

Deze metingen doen wij 3 keer: tijdens de opname, en nogmaals na 2 en 6 maanden.
In addition, there is a monthly check-up appointment at the outpatient clinic. Here we discuss how you and your medication are doing. We will adjust your dosage if necessary.

You will find more information about the treatment and possible side effects here. We also have an information video with more information (text continues after video):

see link for the video:

Participating hospitals: This research is only done at Radboud University Medical Center.


  • Arnt Schellekens, hoofdonderzoeker en hoogleraar, Radboudumc.
  • Hannah Ellerbroek, coördinerend onderzoeker, Radboudumc.
  • Sander Dekkers, physician assistant, Radboudumc.

Contact and registration

If you would like to participate in this study, you can discuss this with your treating physician. Your doctor can assess whether you are eligible and then refer you. If you have any questions, please contact your treating physician or email us:

Foundation Pain-Hope

Pain Hope is a patient organisation for and by people with chronic pain. The patient organisation focuses on people with any kind of pain. This can include pain for which there is no obvious cause. So anyone with chronic pain of any kind can join the Pain Hope Foundation.







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