Naltrexone as part of positive behavioural support appeared to have positive impact on self injurious behavour


Self injurious behaviour in people with learning disabilities can have a major impact on quality of life, in addition to physical harm. Positive behaviour approaches have been showing some degree of success in supporting people with self injurious behaviour, and this case study investigated the possibility of combining pharmacological strategies with positive behaviour support plans.

The researchers worked with a woman with severe learning disabilities and self injurious behaviour to look at the effects of adding Naltrexone to a positive behaviour support plan. Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used mainly for the management of alcohol and opioid drug dependency by decreasing the craving for such substances.

They found tentative evidence of positive treatment effects and suggest that their findings have implications for future prescribing practice of Naltrexone and other medications in combination with positive behaviour support planning.

This finding is obviously tentative at present and based on a single case study, but the authors suggest their findings point to the need for further investigation.

Combining pharmacological and positive behavioural support strategies in the treatment of self-injury, Baker P et al., in International Journal of Positive Behavioural Support, 2,  1, 11-18(8)

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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