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Buprenorphine Helps Combat Teen Heroin Addiction
  Wed Oct 5
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As an add-on to counseling in treating opioid addiction in adolescents, the drug buprenorphine is more effective than a standard addiction treatment, according to a new report.
The researchers note that despite an increase in opioid dependency among adolescents over the last decade, relatively little research has been done to identify effective therapies for these young patients.
Dr. Lisa A. Marsch, from the University of Vermont in Burlington, and colleagues assessed the outcomes of 36 opioid-dependent teens who were assigned to medication-assisted withdrawal therapy with either buprenorphine or clonidine. All of the subjects also received thrice-weekly behavioral counseling.
Seventy-two percent of patients in the buprenorphine group stayed in treatment compared with just 39 percent of those given clonidine, the team reports in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Moreover, the percentage of buprenorphine-treated patients with opiate-negative urine test results was 64 percent, double the percentage seen in the clonidine group.
Relief of withdrawal symptoms and reduction in drug-related HIV risk behavior was noted among subjects in both groups, the authors note.
In general, buprenorphine-treated subjects described more positive effects of their medication than those given clonidine. No evidence of opioid intoxication or psychomotor impairment was seen.
"This study, to our knowledge, was the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate combined behavioral and pharmacological treatments for adolescents dependent on opioids," Marsch's group concludes. The results suggest that buprenorphine plus behavioral counseling is an effective intervention for opioid addiction in this population.
SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, October 2005.
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