Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heroin Maintenance Can Control Addiction, Study Concludes
August 24 2009

Heroin addicts who are given maintenance doses of the drug were more likely to remain in treatment and less likely to use street drugs or engage in other criminal activity than those receiving methadone, according to a study of a heroin-maintenance program in Canada.

The New York Times reported Aug. 20 that researcher Martin T. Schechter of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia said, "The main finding is that, for this group that is generally written off, both methadone and prescription heroin can provide real benefits."

After one year, 88 percent of the heroin-maintenance patients, who received doses of 450 milligrams of the drug, remained in the program and about two-thirds had greatly reduced their illicit activities, compared to 54 percent and 48 percent, respectively, among the methadone group.

However, the heroin group experienced more side-effects, including 10 overdoses. A total of 226 addicts took part in the study.

"Heroin works better than methadone in this population of users, and patients will be more willing to take it," said Joshua Boverman of the Oregon Health and Science University, a study co-author.

The study was published in the Aug. 20, 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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