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Naltrexone implants after in-patient treatment for opioid dependence: randomised controlled trial

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Nikolaj Kun⊘e*
Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, Oslo
Philipp Lobmaier
Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, Oslo
John Kåre Vederhus
Addiction Unit, S⊘rlandet Hospital, Kristiansand
Bj⊘rg Hjerkinn
Addiction Unit, S⊘rlandet Hospital, Kristiansand
Solfrid Hegstad
Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Division of Forensic Toxicology and Drug Abuse, Oslo, Norway
Michael Gossop
National Addiction Centre, Maudsley Hospital, and Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK
Øistein Kristensen
Addiction Unit, S⊘rlandet Hospital, Kristiansand
Helge Waal
Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, Oslo, Norway
Nikolaj Kun⊘e, Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, Kirkeveien 166, NO-0407 Oslo, Norway. Email:
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Naltrexone has considerable potential in helping to prevent relapse in heroin dependency. A longer-lasting formulation for naltrexone treatment is desirable to further reduce non-adherence and relapse during treatment of opiate dependence.


To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a 6-month naltrexone implant in reducing opioid use after in-patient treatment.


A group of 56 abstinence-oriented patients who completed in-patient treatment for opioid dependence were randomly and openly assigned to receive either a 6-month naltrexone implant or their usual aftercare. Drug use and other outcomes were assessed at 6-month follow-up.


Patients receiving naltrexone had on average 45 days less heroin use and 60 days less opioid use than controls in the 180-day period (both P<0.05). Blood tests showed naltrexone levels above 1 ng/ml for the duration of 6 months. Two patients died, neither of whom had received an implant.


Naltrexone implant treatment safely and significantly reduces opioid use in a motivated population of patients.

Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2009 


Declaration of interest



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