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Life Sci. 2005 Oct 7;77(21):2717-22.

Naltrexone plus benzodiazepine aids abstinence in opioid-dependent patients.

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Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale, Sezione di Farmacologia "L. Donatelli" Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Seconda Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy.


Naltrexone (NTX) is widely used to prevent relapse of opioid-dependent patients but its association with insomnia and "hyperexcitability" can result in treatment withdrawal. We evaluated whether NTX combined with the benzodiazepine prazepam was more effective than NTX in keeping patients opioid-free. We determined the relapse rate over 6 months in 56 opioid-dependent subjects, divided into 4 equal groups. All groups received psychological support and underwent urine tests for drug metabolites twice weekly. Group 1 did not receive pharmacological treatment (controls). Group 2 received NTX alone (one 50-mg tablet daily); group 3 received NTX (one 50-mg tablet daily) plus placebo (one tablet twice daily); and group 4 received NTX (one 50-mg tablet daily) plus prazepam (one 10-mg tablet twice daily). Ten patients of group 1 relapsed within 3 months, one after 6 months and three remained opioid-free. Six patients of group 2 relapsed within three months, two after 6 months, and six remained opioid-free. Seven patients of group 3 relapsed three months, one after 6 months and six patients remained opioid-free. In group 4, one patient relapsed within 3 months and one patient after 6 months; 12 patients of this group remained opioid-free. At urine tests, a significantly higher percent patients of group 4 remained free of Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol versus patients of groups 2 and 3. In conclusion, many patients remained opioid-free on NTX alone or combined with prazepam, with a significant advantage for the NTX plus prazepam group.

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