It may sound crazy, but researchers say giving heroin to opiate addicts can help them become less dependent on the drug.
Researchers in the Netherlands conducted two separate studies of more than 500 heroin addicts who did not respond to methadone maintenance treatment. Participants were either injected with or inhaled doses of heroin, depending on the study in which they were enrolled.
The participants received either 12 months of methadone treatment alone, 12 months of methadone treatment plus heroin, or six months of methadone treatment alone followed by six months of methadone plus heroin treatment.
Results show adding heroin to methadone is a safe and effective treatment. Researchers say the combination can reduce the many physical, mental and social problems experienced by heroin addicts. The study shows treatment with heroin plus methadone is significantly more effective than treatment with methadone alone.