Monday, February 21, 2011

Naltrexone for heroin addiction

Heroin addicts are often prescribed methadone as this reduces problems with criminality, contaminated drugs and dirty needles. However, methadone itself is still addictive so Nikolaj Kunoe from the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research at the University of Oslo looked into the use of a substance called naltrexone. Naltrexone completely blocks the effects of heroin and other morphine-related substances. Kunoe studied 56 heroin addicts who had already been through detoxification treatment. Half of them were implanted with 20 subcutaneous pellets containing naltrexone which was gradually released into the bloodstream and half received treatment as usual. After six months twice as many people in the naltrexone group managed to give up heroin and those who did not give up heroin more than halved their use. By contrast in the control group the majority of people relapsed back into heroin use.

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