Naltrexone, an anti-addiction drug (sold as Revia by DuPont, Depade by Tyco Healthcare’s Mallickrodt Pharmaceuticals, and Vivitrol by Alkermes/Cephalon), has been found to decrease kleptomaniacs’ need to steal. Science Daily reports:
It appears that a drug commonly used to treat alcohol and drug addiction has a similar effect on the compulsive behavior of kleptomaniacs – it curbs their urge to steal, according to new research at the University of Minnesota.
Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the effects of endogenous opiates that may be released during stealing; in other words, it blocks the part of the brain that feels pleasure with certain addictive behaviors. They found that after eight weeks of treatment, naltrexone was able to reduce the urges to steal and stealing behavior in people with kleptomania. Its side effects were generally mild.
A recent, large epidemiological study of about 43,000 adults found that more than 11 percent of the general population admitted to having shoplifted in their lifetime. It is unclear, however, how many people who steal suffer from kleptomania.
While the drug is not a cure for kleptomania…it offers hope to those who are suffering from the addiction. He also said the drug would most likely work best in combination with individual therapy.
This sounds like a desperate grab in an ailing national market. The mite-sized fraction of the population suffering from kleptomania may find relief through the pill, but I doubt the study was commissioned because people are genuinely worried about them. Rather, it’s a catchy way to gain publicity, repackage the drug as Nobesteelin, and push it on suspicious parents and juvenile hall psychiatrists.
They should put it to good use and prescribe it to the Department of the Treasury.