New Treatment For Heroin Addiction

A new study has been completed, outlining a new treatment for heroin addicts. This centers on hydromorphone, which is a licensed pain medication.

The reason why a new drug is needed is because methadone and suboxone, while effective for helping many addicts step away from heroin, do not work for all people with an opioid addiction.

Research, conducted at St. Paul’s Hospital and the School of Population and Public Health of the University of British Columbia, found that hydromorphone is equally as effective as diacetylmorphine (pharmaceutical-grade prescription heroin). The research involved 202 addicts in the Vancouver area. A traditional ‘double-blind’ experiment was run, with half of addicts given hydromorphone and half given diacetylmorphine.

Commenting on the research, in an email sent to The Latest News, Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes, who led the study, said:

“Hydromorphone had never been evaluated as a substitution treatment for opioid dependence.”

He then added:

“Our study shows that hydromorphone is as effective as diacetylmorphine, providing a licensed alternative to treat severe opioid use disorder. Providing injectable opioids in specialized clinics under supervision ensures safety of both the patients and the community, and the provision of comprehensive care.”

The results were a success in that all study participants, on both medications, reported far fewer days of street-heroin and other opioid use at six months. Furthermore, of 88,451 injections there were only 25 adverse reactions (which is very low for a study of this scale).

The research formed part of a larger program called the “Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness.” The research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Psychiatry. The paper is titled “Hydromorphone Compared With Diacetylmorphine for Long-term Opioid Dependence: A Randomized Clinical Trial.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.