Patients who receive naltrexone after leaving prison are less likely to relapse and overdose on opioid drugs than those who take other kinds of treatment, according to a new study published by The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study involved US researchers randomly assigning 308 previously incarcerated offenders to standard treatment (including counseling and referral to treatment centers) or a 24-week course of extended-release naltrexone. Naltrexone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors to prevent the patient from feeling a high when using an opioid drug.
According to the study, the median time to relapse was significantly increased in the naltrexone group at 10.5 weeks compared with 5.0 weeks in the standard-treatment group. Among the patients taking naltrexone, 43% relapsed, compared to 64% in the control group. The study also reports that no patients in the naltrexone group overdosed a year later, compared to seven in the standard treatment group.
More information about the study can be found on The New England Journal of Medicine website.