Hope for long-term heroin addiction
The findings, presented to delegates at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre’s (NDARC) annual symposium in Sydney yesterday, are the first to report long-term treatment outcomes for people with heroin dependence.
After following 615 heroin users for 11 years, researchers had complete data on 431, of whom 10% had died, 25% were still using heroin and 50% were still in treatment programs, while the balance maintained abstinence.
Importantly, more than 80% of the cohort achieved significant reduction of their heroin use and reduction in criminal involvement.
When the study commenced, 24% of heroin users relied on crime as their main income. At follow-up 11 years later, only 2% were committing crimes to buy drugs.
According to study co-author Professor Shane Darke, the report suggests that short-term treatments like naltrexone implants offered in rapid detox centres are less likely to work.