Vancouver study finds possible new treatment path for heroin addiction

People with chronic heroin addiction may soon have another treatment option after the conclusion of a groundbreaking study in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The four-year Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME), led by principal investigator Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes, examined whether hydromorphone, a licensed pain medication, is as effective in treating a chronic heroin addiction as diacetylmorphine, also known as pharmaceutical-grade heroin.

The results, which will appear in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, show it is: Participants on both medications reported three to five days a month of illicit drug use, compared with almost daily illicit drug use prior to the study. As well, illegal activities dropped to an average of less than four a month, compared with an average of more than 14 a month before the study.

Andrea Woo reports

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