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Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Jun;194(6):541-6. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.055319.

Naltrexone implants after in-patient treatment for opioid dependence: randomised controlled trial.

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  • 1Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, Kirkeveien 166, Oslo NO-0407, Norway.



Naltrexone has considerable potential in helping to prevent relapse in heroin dependency. A longer-lasting formulation for naltrexone treatment is desirable to further reduce non-adherence and relapse during treatment of opiate dependence.


To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a 6-month naltrexone implant in reducing opioid use after in-patient treatment.


A group of 56 abstinence-oriented patients who completed in-patient treatment for opioid dependence were randomly and openly assigned to receive either a 6-month naltrexone implant or their usual aftercare. Drug use and other outcomes were assessed at 6-month follow-up.


Patients receiving naltrexone had on average 45 days less heroin use and 60 days less opioid use than controls in the 180-day period (both P<0.05). Blood tests showed naltrexone levels above 1 ng/ml for the duration of 6 months. Two patients died, neither of whom had received an implant.


Naltrexone implant treatment safely and significantly reduces opioid use in a motivated population of patients.

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