Extended-release naltrexone lowers relapse rates in ex-offenders

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National Institute on Drug Abuse on 03/31/2016

Science Spotlight

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New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that the initial relapse rates among opioid-dependent adults in the criminal justice system was lower for participants receiving extended-release naltrexone than for those receiving treatment as usual (brief counseling and referrals for community treatment programs). Administered as a monthly injection, naltrexone is an FDA-approved sustained-release, opioid antagonist for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence.

This study is the first large randomized trial of extended-release naltrexone versus usual care conditions among criminal justice involved adults. The findings showed that 24 weeks (six monthly injections) of extended-release naltrexone resulted in a significantly lower opioid relapse rate (43 percent vs. 64 percent) among the two groups. Additionally, while there were no overdoses observed in the extended-release naltrexone group, there were seven in the usual care group, with three resulting in fatalities.

For a copy of the abstract, “Extended-Release Naltrexone to Prevent Opioid Relapse in Ex-Offenders,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine, go to http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1505409

For more information about criminal justice and drug abuse, including Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations – A Research-Based Guide, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/criminal-justice-drug-abuse

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.