A pilot study of dextromethorphan in naloxone-precipitated opiate withdrawal

Eur J Pharmacol. 1996 Jul 4;307(3):251-7. doi: 10.1016/0014-2999(96)00249-x.


Dextromethorphan and its metabolite dextrophan antagonize N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-mediated activity in pre-clinical studies. We examined dextromethorphan's effects on naloxone-precipitated opiate withdrawal in opiate-dependent subjects stabilized on 25 mg of methadone. Subjects received challenges on three different days with 0.4 mg of intramuscular naloxone. Pretreatment 1 h before naloxone was with dextromethorphan in a double-blind, balanced, randomized design with either placebo, dextromethorphan 60 mg, or dextromethorphan 120 mg for six subjects; and placebo, dextromethorphan 120 mg, or dextromethorphan 240 mg for five subjects. There was considerable inter-individual variability in the response to dextromethorphan, but no net attenuation by dextromethorphan on any withdrawal measure assessed. Two of three subjects detoxified from methadone with dextromethorphan 60 mg orally every 4 h demonstrated considerable withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dextromethorphan / administration & dosage
  • Dextromethorphan / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naloxone / adverse effects*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology


  • Naloxone
  • Dextromethorphan