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Evaluation of Propranolol in Opiate Dependence

Richard B. Resnick, MD; Richard S. Kestenbaum, PhD; Lee K. Schwartz, MD; Alfred Smith, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(8):993-997. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770080111011.
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• Among the increasing number of recent reports of the use of β-adrenergic blocking drugs for a variety of psychiatric disorders is a series concluding that propranolol hydrochloride is efficacious in the treatment of opiate dependence. These reports were based on clinical observations of outpatient addicts in an uncontrolled situation. In order to validate these findings, we carried out a series of controlled, double-blind studies with hospitalized volunteers.

The results of our studies do not confirm the previous reports. Propranolol neither relieved nor precipitated opiate withdrawal in subjects dependent either on dihydromorphinone hydrochloride or on heroin. It did not effectively block heroin-induced euphoria in dependent or nondependent subjects. In addition, there was no effect on the pattern of self-administration in opiate-dependent subjects, whether they were maintained on propranolol or placebo.

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