Anti-Theft Drugs
Anti-Theft Drugs
Science, technology, and life.
April 9 2009 10:05 AM

Anti-Theft Drugs

Can a drug cure the urge to steal?

It looks that way. In the April 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry , scientists from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine report :

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.


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.


It sounds like an April Fools' joke. But it isn't. In an interview with Reuters , the study's lead author explains that naltrexone "gets rid of that rush and desire" to steal.

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?

The floor's open .


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