Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cured, all right

We just watched the great Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange last night, and today I read in Will Saletan's blog Human Nature that a new drug might "cure the urge to steal."

Saletan quotes a report by the University of Minnesota School of Medicine:

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of oral naltrexone for kleptomania. Twenty-five individuals with DSM-IV kleptomania were randomized to naltrexone (dosing ranging from 50 mg/day to 150 mg/day) or placebo. . . .

Subjects assigned to naltrexone had significantly greater reductions in . . . stealing urges (p = .032), and stealing behavior (p < .001) compared with subjects on placebo. Subjects assigned to naltrexone also had greater improvement in overall kleptomania severity. . . . Naltrexone demonstrated statistically significant reductions in stealing urges and behavior in kleptomania.
Saletan adds:
Naltrexone is better known as a drug for alcohol or drug addiction. Many of us, while accepting these addictions as diseases, continue to regard theft as a matter of personal responsibility. Should we rethink that distinction? If the same drug relieves both conditions, should we take kleptomania more seriously as an illness?