A drug commonly used to treat alcohol and drug addiction may help curb the urge to steal among kleptomaniacs, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

They found the drug naltrexone helped take away the "thrill" that drives some kleptomaniacs to steal.

"It gets rid of that rush and desire," said Dr. Jon Grant, of the University of Minnesota, who led the study.

"The difference in their behavior was significant, and these people were really troubled by their behavior."

Writing in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, Grant and colleagues said for two months they tested 25 patients who said they spent at least one hour a week stealing.

Those who took naltrexone reported significantly less stealing behavior compared to those given placebo.

Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade and is approved for use against alcohol and opiate abuse.