Factors influencing engagement and utilization of opium tincture-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder: A qualitative study in Tehran, Iran

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Drug and Alcohol Review
Publication Date



In response to a high burden of opioid use disorder (OUD), Iran established a network of opioid agonist treatment (OAT) centers beginning in 2002. To increase treatment diversity, particularly for patients who use opium as their drug of choice, opium tincture (OT)-assisted treatment was introduced to the network. This study aimed to explore factors influencing OT-assisted treatment selection for OUD in Tehran, Iran.


We conducted 54 in-depth interviews with patients with OUD (n = 33), family members of patients (n = 9), and drug treatment providers (n = 12). Participants were recruited from 12 drug treatment centers across Tehran, between September and November 2019. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded in OpenCode 4.02 software and analyzed using thematic analysis.


Study participants more commonly reported individual-level factors as facilitators (e.g. to reduce harms associated with illicit opioid use, achieve recovery through a gradual dose reduction regimen combined with Congress 60 recovery program) and structural level factors (e.g. low adoption by OAT system and lack of familiarity of treatment providers) as barriers for utilization of OT-assisted treatment regimens. OT was perceived to produce lower levels of physiological dependence than methadone, but the requirement for twice supervised dosing was restrictive. Low familial and community acceptance were also seen as barriers to access.

Discussion and Conclusions

This research identified a range of perceived benefits for OT-assisted treatment ranging from harm reduction to an intermediate step to achieve recovery. However, several structural-, individual-, familial- and community-level barriers impede its availability and acceptability.

Citation: Noroozi, A., Conigrave, K. M., Mirrahimi, B., Bastani, P., Charkhgard, N., Salehi, M., ... & Kebriaeezadeh, A. (2021). Factors influencing engagement and utilisation of opium tincture‐assisted treatment for opioid use disorder: A qualitative study in Tehran, Iran. Drug and Alcohol Review.