Heroin addicts who can't quit using and don't respond to methadone treatment can be helped by maintenance doses of heroin, according to a study conducted by researchers at King's College London.
Reuters reported May 28 that heroin maintenance, while obviously not a cure for addiction, at least kept most of the hardcore addicts in the study away from street drugs, which in turn helped prevent use of dirty needles and other unhealthy behaviors. In fact, about two-thirds of the heroin-maintenance group tested clean for the presence of street drugs, a far better performance than among methadone patients, two-thirds of whom typically test positive for use of street drugs.
Some of the study participants stayed in the program for more than two years and were able to get jobs and reconnect with family members, researchers added. “People are not only physically getting better, but they're getting back into society,” said study author John Strang.
The findings were published in the May 28, 2010 issue of The Lancet.