Drug Helps Teens Kick Opiate Abuse

Three-quarters treated with buprenorphine stuck with therapy, study found

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The drug buprenorphine appears effective in treating teens addicted to heroin and other opiates, researchers report.

The use of heroin among adolescents has more than doubled in the past 10 years, noted researchers from the University of Vermont. There's also been an increase in this age group of the illicit use of prescription opiates such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Opiates are the second most commonly used illicit drugs among teens, second only to marijuana.

The study involved 36 opiate-addicted adolescents undergoing detoxification, and compared the effectiveness of buprenorphine hydrochloride to that of another drug called clonidine hydrochloride.

Buprenorphine (brand name Temgesic) treats opiate addiction by preventing symptoms of withdrawal. Clonidine, which belongs to a family of drugs called alpha-blockers, is most commonly used to treat high blood pressure.

During the 28-day study, the teens were assigned to outpatient, medication-assisted withdrawal treatment that included drug treatment and behavioral counseling three times a week.

Over the course of the study, 72 percent of the teens who received buprenorphine remained in treatment, compared with 39 percent of the teens who received clonidine.

"Results clearly demonstrated that combining buprenorphine with behavioral interventions is significantly more efficacious in the treatment of opiod-dependent adolescents relative to combining clonidine with behavioral interventions," the researchers wrote.

The findings appear in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about opioid abuse.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Oct. 3, 2005

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