The opiate antagonist, naltrexone, in the treatment of trichotillomania: results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled study

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2014 Feb;34(1):134-8. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000000037.


Trichotillomania (TTM) is characterized by repetitive hair pulling resulting in hair loss. Data on the pharmacological treatment of TTM are limited. This study examined the opioid antagonist, naltrexone, in adults with TTM who had urges to pull their hair. Fifty-one individuals with TTM were randomized to naltrexone or placebo in an 8-week, double-blind trial. Subjects were assessed with measures of TTM severity and selected cognitive tasks. Naltrexone failed to demonstrate significantly greater reductions in hair pulling compared to placebo. Cognitive flexibility, however, significantly improved with naltrexone (P = 0.026). Subjects taking naltrexone with a family history of addiction showed a greater numerical reduction in the urges to pull, although it was not statistically significant. Future studies will have to examine whether pharmacological modulation of the opiate system may provide promise in controlling pulling behavior in a subgroup of individuals with TTM.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trichotillomania / diagnosis
  • Trichotillomania / drug therapy*
  • Trichotillomania / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Naltrexone