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NIDA. (2016, March 31). Extended-release naltrexone lowers relapse rates in ex-offenders. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

March 31, 2016

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New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that the relapse rates among criminal justice involved adults with a history of opioid dependence were lower for participants receiving extended-release naltrexone than for those receiving treatment as usual (brief counseling and referrals for community treatment programs). Administered as a monthly injection, naltrexone is an FDA-approved sustained-release, opioid antagonist for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence.

This study is the first large randomized trial of extended-release naltrexone versus usual care conditions among criminal justice involved adults. The findings showed that 24 weeks (six monthly injections) of extended-release naltrexone resulted in a significantly lower opioid relapse rate (43 percent vs. 64 percent) among the two groups. Additionally, while there were no overdoses observed in the extended-release naltrexone group, there were seven in the usual care group, with three resulting in fatalities.  

For a copy of the abstract, “Extended-Release Naltrexone to Prevent Opioid Relapse in Ex-Offenders,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine, go to

For more information about criminal justice and drug abuse, including Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations - A Research-Based Guide, go to:

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