Using a drug-fixing drug called naltrexone University of Guelph addicts can maintain an addiction-free life new research has found.

Researchers say the finding published today in the journal Addiction Biology is an important step toward helping addicts avoid the adverse side effects of addiction therapy and improve their quality of life. Its a little scary to think about using antidepressants and the side effects of them are not a good thing said lead author Jan-Eric Stroh clinical director of the Universitys Addiction and Mental Health Services Authority (AMSA) Addiction Recovery Program.

The discovery comes after writing a novel that integrated addiction treatment and education into a single intervention.

Tracking methods and symptoms of relapse with the patients own smartphone-enabled device such as a smartphone application for medication non-compliance offer very convenient and targeted systems when choosing appropriate treatment.

Stroh and colleagues found the users were more willing to engage in medication non-compliance when treatment consisted of counseling rather than a full drug-focused addiction treatment program.

Adverse effect of drug treatment was less if teens seeking treatment for non-addictive psychosocial problems instead took naltrexone. It appeared to reduce distress associated with substance abuse in this group because it lowered the desire to interpret negative emotions associated with drug use and also decreased feelings of shame or guilt.

In the sample of parents of teens enrolled in the study the daily frequency of disorders associated with naltrexone use typically ranged from two to 14 with a mean of 19. 2 sessions per month for teens who were addicted versus 18. 4 days for those not addicted researchers report in Addiction.

The findings build on earlier research by other researchers that revealed that a subset of drug abusers or non-addicts are addicted to non-addictive psychosocial reactions Stroh said. We were interested in why some non-addicts and addiction patients were avoiding treatment and others kept use due to the lack of non-addictive drug-related symptoms as opposed to traditional negative drug-related symptoms such as low mood and diminished desire Stroh added.

For the study researchers used a smartphone-enabled test called Qualio PLUS to measure levels of naltrexone; a drug that temporarily halts the progression of naltrexone-receptor signaling in the brain allowing non-addicted users to continue without causing withdrawal or other harmful side effects.

Researchers also showed the smartphone app used as a promotional incentive was effective in motivating subsequent non-addicted users to continue using naltrexone.

The smartphone application a motivational wrap was commonly used in university locker rooms group meetings and other informal settings that may influence treatment behavior the researchers found.

The smartphone data also helped the researches learn how users reported their intentions to seek medical treatment when they became addicted to non-addictive drug conditions. The sample used in the study also showed naltrexone was effective at reducing craving and improving sleep in non-addicted individuals.

Led by senior author Angelo ODonnell U of G assistant professor of technology neuroscience and psychology researchers hope using smartphone-enabled non-addictive drug-prescribing app technology in clinics and other clinics will offer reduced addiction-related symptoms and drug-related harms.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R05NS107093 NS107093) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Canada and New Zealand. The study was conducted within the Cronin Centre for Addiction Research at U of G.