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J Addict Dis. 2006;25(2):1-8.

Antagonist treatment of opioid withdrawal translational low dose approach.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27704, USA.


Although antagonist drugs are receiving increasing attention in the treatment of opioid withdrawal, the mechanisms of interaction of opiate agonists and antagonists remain largely to be investigated. We focused on the effects of very low quantities of opiate antagonists, following the clinical indication of their potential utility in detoxification. Upon reviewing the evidence on the administration of small doses of naloxone and naltrexone in the presence of agonist drugs, the effects of low-dose naltrexone during opiate administration and withdrawal are described. The application of a translational methodology allowed completing the clinical design with behavioral and cellular information obtained from a specifically developed animal model. The initial results indicate that low doses of naltrexone may help reducing the manifestation of opioid withdrawal, offer suggestions for further investigations and confirm the utility of a translational research approach to the clinical neurobiology of drug addiction.

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