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Use of naltrexone in reducing self-injurious behavior: A single case analysis

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Abstract

The efficacy of the opiate antagonist, naltrexone, in the treatment of self-injurious behavior (SIB) was examined in a 10-year-old mildly mentally retarded boy with SIB of 9 years duration. Naltrexone was demonstrated to be effective in both an open trial (100 mg of naltrexone resulted in a 69.3% decrease in SIB from baseline), and in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using a B1-B2-A1-B2 design (B1=100 mg naltrexone; A1=placebo; B2=200mg naltrexone). A dose-response relationship was demonstrated insofar as the greatest decrease in SIB of 92.1% was achieved at 200 mg of naltrexone. This study lends clinical support to the hypothesis that the endogenous opiate system may be involved in the maintenance of SIB and suggests that naltrexone may be effective in the treatment of severe SIB.

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Ryan, E.P., Helsel, W.J., Lubetsky, M.J. et al. Use of naltrexone in reducing self-injurious behavior: A single case analysis. Journal of the Multihandicapped Person 2, 295–309 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01098171

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Key words

  • self-injurious behavior
  • opiate antagonist
  • endogenous opiate
  • endogenous endorphin