The treatment of heroin addiction: Naltrexone alone and with behavior therapy

Edward J Callahan, Richard A. Rawson, Beverly McCleave, Richard Arias, Michael Glazer, Robert P. Liberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Recently, narcotic antagonists (drugs which block the euphoric effects of opiates) and behavior therapy have both been proposed as possible treatments for heroin addiction. In the present study the effectiveness of one particular antagonist, naltrexone, was examined under two conditions: (1) when administered alone, and (2) when administered in conjunction with behavior therapy. Measures of treatment effect included number of days on naltrexone, number of weeks in the program, reported side effects, and number of dirty urines in each treatment. While data initially indicated a superiority of the combined treatment program, this superiority faded over time. Results are discussed in terms of program start-up effects (especially when using experimental drugs), in terms of process versus outcome measurement, and in terms of societal pressure operating against the success of heroin treatment in minority populations with poor job skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-807
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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