Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Drug Offers Effective Alternative Treatment for Heroin Addicts

October 20, 2008
Research Summary

The latest research from the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) suggests that hydromorphone -- an opiate found in prescription cough medicines like Dilaudid -- is more effective than methadone in reducing rates of illicit drug use and improving abstinence retention rates among opiate addicts, the National Post reported Oct. 18.

NAOMI researchers prescribed medical-grade heroin, methadone and hydromorphone to individuals addicted to heroin. After three years, the study found that those both the heroin-maintenance and hydromorphone group had better outcomes than the methadone group. Hydromorphone was so effective that almost all the participants in the group believed they were being given heroin.

"To be perfectly frank, there is a stigma attached to heroin. That would make [hydromorphone] particularly attractive in places where the concept of using heroin would be untenable as a public policy," said Martin Schechter, lead investigator of the project and director of the University of British Columbia School of Population and Public Health.

Schechter said that while there would be challenges to using hydromorphone to treat addiction, the hurdles would be small compared to getting prescription heroin approved. The researchers are already in negotiations with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority about making the NAOMI research center into a permanent drug-treatment clinic that would offer methadone and hydromorphone maintenance.

From Join Together.org - Research News

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