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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2004 Jun;26(4):285-94.

Naltrexone for heroin dependence treatment in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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  • 1St. Petersburg Scientific Research Center of Addictions and Psychopharmacology, affiliated with St. Petersburg State Pavlov Medical University, Russia.


Naltrexone may be more effective for treating opioid (heroin) dependence in Russia than in the U.S. because patients are mostly young and living with their parents, who can control medication compliance. In this pilot study we randomized 52 consenting patients who completed detoxification in St. Petersburg to a double blind, 6-month course of biweekly drug counseling and naltrexone, or counseling and placebo naltrexone. Significant differences in retention and relapse favoring naltrexone were seen beginning at 1 month and continuing throughout the study. At the end of 6 months, 12 of the 27 naltrexone patients (44.4%) remained in treatment and had not relapsed as compared to 4 of 25 placebo patients (16%; p<0.05). Since heroin dependence is the main way HIV is being spread in Russia, naltrexone is likely to improve treatment outcome and help reduce the spread of HIV if it can be made more widely available.

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