New medication could improve opiate addiction treatment

By Staff Writer

Individuals who struggle with opiate addiction may soon have a new treatment option. A team of Norwegian researchers is reporting that the non-addictive medication naltrexone may be effective at blocking cravings for heroin and other opiates.

Treating opiate addiction with naltrexone could offer many advantages over current options. Most strategies involve replacing heroin with opiate-based medications. While this can help individuals successfully end their abuse of heroin, these medications have a high potential for addiction of their own.

However, naltrexone appears to block any cravings for heroin and other opiates with being addictive.

For the study, researchers from the Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research compared the success rate of a group of heroin addicts who were given naltrexone treatment to rates of another group who were assigned to traditional medications. They found that twice as many naltrexone patients abstained from heroin use during the study period.

The researchers said that their findings are pretty clear-cut, and are now advocating for naltrexone to be used in more drug rehab programs that treat opiate addiction. The medication could support the relapse prevention efforts of individuals who are struggling to stay drug-free.