Street heroin use could be curbed with morphine-like drug

Heroin addiction is notoriously difficult to overcome, but a new study finds that some people with particularly serious addictions may benefit from treatment with a drug related to morphine.

The study, from researchers in Canada, focused on the small portion of people with heroin addiction who have tried and failed to treat their addiction multiple times with existing medications — mainly, the oral medications methadone and buprenorphine — and who continue to use street drugs and engage in illegal activity to obtain the drugs.

The findings suggest that “in jurisdictions where diacetylmorphine is currently not available … hydromorphone could be offered as an alternative,” the researchers, from the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, wrote in the April 6 issue of the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Rachael Rettner reports

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