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Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2010 Oct;12(5):448-53. doi: 10.1007/s11920-010-0135-5.

Use of naltrexone to treat opioid addiction in a country in which methadone and buprenorphine are not available.

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  • 1Department of Addictions, St. Petersburg Bekhterev Psychoneurological Research Institute, St.-Petersburg, Russia. kru@ek3506.spb.edu

Abstract

Opioid dependence is one of the most severe drug dependencies. Naltrexone is a medication that completely blocks the subjective and other effects of opioids and, when administered to detoxified opioid addicts and taken as directed, prevents relapse and helps maintain abstinence. The major problem with naltrexone is poor compliance, particularly in countries in which there is a treatment alternative based on substitution of illicit opioids such as heroin with orally administered opioid agonists (methadone) or partial agonist/antagonists (buprenorphine). In Russia, substitution therapy is forbidden by law, and naltrexone is the only available pharmacotherapy for heroin dependence. Due to the lack of alternatives to naltrexone and stronger family control of compliance (adherence), naltrexone is more effective for relapse prevention and abstinence stabilization in Russia than in Western countries. Long-acting, sustained-release formulations (injectable and implantable) seem particularly effective compared with oral formulations. This article summarizes the results of studies conducted in Russia during the past 10 years that demonstrate these points.

PMID:
20640538
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3160743
Free PMC Article
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