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Am J Addict. 1999 Spring;8(2):161-4.

Nalbuphine hydrochloride dependence in anabolic steroid users.

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  • 1Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center, McLean Hospital-Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


Nalbuphine hydrochloride, a nonscheduled opioid agonist/antagonist analgesic, is currently approved for the treatment of pain. Recently, nalbuphine dependence was reported in three anabolic steroid users in Britain. To further document this phenomenon, we conducted interviews on eleven subjects who reported nalbuphine use. Eight subjects were clinically dependent on nalbuphine, and seven of the subjects who were asked about tolerance and withdrawal with nalbuphine acknowledged these symptoms. Eight subjects, who had never used drugs intravenously before, reported using nalbuphine by this route. Nalbuphine-related morbidity was extensive and included medical complications and psychiatric symptoms. Nalbuphine users also exhibited a high rate of comorbid Axis I disorders, including other substance misuse. Virtually all subjects described widespread nalbuphine use in the gymnasiums they frequented. These observations, together with the recent increase in nalbuphine-related articles in the lay press, suggest that nalbuphine may represent a new drug of abuse among athletes, especially those using anabolic steroids, and that nalbuphine's scheduling status may need to be re-evaluated.

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