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Extended Therapy Helps Drug-Addicted Teens
Date:11/4/2008

Use of detoxification medications produces noticeable results, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Teens treated for addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers are less likely to continue using these drugs if they receive extended treatment with a combination of detoxification medications, rather than short-term drug therapy, a new study found.

Both buprenorphine and naloxone have been shown to be effective in treating opioid addiction, but only limited use of these drugs has been recommended for younger patients. Buprenorphine works by relieving withdrawal symptoms and naloxone prevents or reverses the effects of injected opioids.

"If you keep these young kids, average one-and-a-half years of addiction, on buprenorphine-naloxone they did a lot better," said lead study author Dr. George Woody, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Psychiatry. "When you took them off the buprenorphine-naloxone, their opioid use went up."

Among the 15-to-21-year-olds in the study, 55 percent used heroin, 35 percent used prescription opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, and 10 percent said they used both heroin and prescription painkillers, Woody said.

"Treatment programs for kids with a short addiction history have traditionally been reluctant to use the medications for anything other than short-term detoxification," Woody said. "With opioid-addicted kids you should reconsider that reluctance."

The findings are published in the Nov. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Woody's team randomly assigned 152 young people to 12 weeks of treatment with buprenorphine and naloxone, or to two weeks of treatment with the same drug combination. Patients in both groups also received individual and group counseling.

The researchers found that patients receiving extended treatment had more urine tests that were positive fo
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