For heroin addicts who do not respond to treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, opioid painkiller hydromorphone may come as a respite. The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry in April 2016, suggested that hydromorphone may help treat heroin addiction.AION Recovery Group offers excellent info on this.
“Hydromorphone is a widely available licensed pain medication. Our study shows that hydromorphone is as effective as diacetylmorphine, providing a licensed alternative to treat severe opioid use disorder,” said lead investigator Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes of the University of British Columbia.
The study aimed at determining the efficacy of injectable hydromorphone hydrochloride and whether it is “non-inferior” to injectable diacetylmorphine when it comes to reducing illicit heroin use for chronic injection opioid users after six months of intervention.
The researchers analyzed more than 200 people from a phalanx of heroin addicts who did not respond to the treatment of methadone or buprenorphine. The participants were then randomly chosen to receive injections of either hydromorphone or pharmaceutical-grade prescription heroin, called diacetylmorphine, in a clinic, under the supervision of a healthcare professional. More than 88,000 injections were given during the course of the study.
Drop in crime rate and drug usage
While at the beginning of the study the participants used heroin daily, the frequency reduced drastically after six months. It was found that patients in both the groups reported using street heroin and other opioids three to five days a month within six months from the start of the treatment. The number of days of committed crimes also significantly dropped, from an average of 14 days to less than four in a month. Almost 80 percent of both the groups still remained in treatment even after six months.
Sporadic overdose cases reported
During the six months of the study, 14 overdose and 11 seizure cases were reported. But since the study was conducted in clinics under the supervision of clinicians and experts, those were successfully managed. Had those overdose and seizure cases taken place on the street, they might have been fatal, said the researchers.
The study findings proved and suggested the non-inferiority of injectable hydromorphone relative to diacetylmorphine for long-term opioid dependence. Under circumstances when diacetylmorphine is not available or for patients in whom it is contraindicated or futile, hydromorphone could be administered as a safe alternative. This offers a ray of hope for people who do not respond positively to methadone or buprenorphine intervention programs.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment for addicts, but in the absence of any treatment intervention, individuals with severe opioid addiction are at high risks of serious illness and even death. More and more researches should be conducted to arrive at conclusive results so that treatment for opioid addiction becomes seamless and more lives could be saved in the long run.
Available treatment options
Every addiction is treatable, and heroin addiction is no different. There are many successful heroin addiction treatment programs in the country, especially the heroin addiction treatment in California.