Subjects: Behavioral health
Naltrexone, a drug usually reserved for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, has been found to reduce the urge to steal in kleptomaniacs, according to Jon Grant and colleagues at the University of Minnesota.
Kleptomania is a rare disorder characterized by recurrent stealing. Until now, there had been no empirically validated treatments for the condition.
The scientists lured 25 kleptomaniacs to participate in an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the opioid antagonist.
Subjects had spent at least an hour per week stealing things prior to enrollment.
Many had tried to control their impulses by wearing tight-fitting clothes, carrying a small purse or shopping with friends with little success.
Every 2 weeks, participants were assessed using the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Kleptomania and associated tools for the assessment of depression, anxiety and psychosocial functioning.
Subjects receiving naltrexone were found to have greater reductions in K-YBOCS scores, stealing urges and stealing behavior than placebo-treated subjects.
Remarkably, nearly 2/3 of the treatment group stopped stealing altogether.
The drug “gets rid of that rush and desire (to steal)” Grant told Reuters. “These people were really troubled by their behavior.”
“Based on the fact that (kleptomania) clinically presents like an addiction, our thought was, why shouldn’t we use a medication that was approved by the FDA for addiction, to see if it can help with shoplifting?’” he told NPR.
The write-up appears in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry.
The shoplifting pill is marketed as Revia by Duramed and as Depade by Mallinckrodt.