The successful treatment of drug addiction requires a holistic approach and whereas many people respond well to cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and group therapy, others need a bit more help to overcome their addiction. Medication has proved highly effective in the treatment of addiction to opiate-based drugs. There are several drugs on the market that can be used to treat opiate addiction but lofexidine, unlike other replacement or substitute drugs like methadone, is not classified as an opioid because it is not one. Lofexidine is typically used in the treatment of heroin, methadone and opiate addiction to relieve withdrawal symptoms but it does not completely eliminate them.
An explanation of what Lofexidine is
Like most medications used in drug rehab, lofexidine was not originally developed to treat opiate addiction. Lofexidine hydrochloride is taken in tablet form and is an a2A adrenergic receptor agonist that was created to treat high blood pressure, but it is FDA approved for the treatment of opioid addiction to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Studies have been conducted to ascertain if lofexidine can be used to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, but as of yet there is no viable research to support this application of the drug.
Lofexidine stimulates the alpha-2 receptors of the brain potentially leading to the lessening of noradrenaline levels, a chemical released by the nervous system in response to stress. This helps reduce certain withdrawal symptoms during detox and rehab. It takes about two to four hours for the effects of lofexidine to be felt and the relief will last more or less eight hours. This means that lofexidine needs to be taken two, three or four times in a day rather than once a day like some of the other drug rehab medications. As part of a drug detox and rehab programme, Lofexidine will typically be administered for anything from seven to ten days. The timeframe will be at the discretion of the rehab facility and the prescribing doctor.
Since lofexidine is not an opiate-based drug, it is not considered addictive but as part of a rehab programme, it should still only be administered under supervision in conjunction with therapy and counselling. As with most medications, it is not advisable to take Lofexidine and alcohol simultaneously as this could potentially make you sleepy, impair your concentration or exacerbate the known side effects of the drug. Because lofexidine was designed to treat high blood pressure you should never abruptly stop taking it as this can result in a life-threatening increase in blood pressure. You should gradually taper off lofexidine over a number of days and as part of a rehab programme, this process will be controlled and monitored by a medical professional.
A study in 2004 determined that it was possible to use lofexidine to effectively treat opiate addiction and that taking lofexidine in conjunction with additional medications gave rise to a more rapid and sustainable detox from opiate addiction. Lofexidine is often used in conjunction with naltrexone. In these instances, naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist, is prescribed to block the opioid receptors and accelerate the detox process while lofexidine is administered to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.
In 2017 a study was done to compare the usefulness of buprenorphine combined with naloxone as opposed to a combination of methadone and lofexidine to effectively treat opioid addiction. This study concluded that the cravings were more intense in the test subjects that were prescribed buprenorphine or naloxone and the withdrawal symptoms subsided more slowly. Brand names for lofexidine include BritLofex, Kai Er Ding, Detoxydine and Dimatex.
The development of Lofexidine
Lofexidine hydrochloride has been licensed and sold in the UK by Britannia Pharmaceuticals since 1992 as a treatment for opioid withdrawal but it was only approved by the FDA as a treatment for addiction in the United States in 2018, where it is sold under the brand name Lucemyra. It is the first non-opioid drug approved in the US for the treatment of opioid withdrawal.
Common Side Effects of Lofexidine
Unfortunately, no medication is without side effects and while lofexidine has proved useful in the treatment of opiate addiction, you do need to be aware that you could experience some of the following side effects:
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth and nose
- Slow heart rate
Medically assisted rehab is often the best course of treatment in the fight against drug addiction. Contact the Rehab Clinics Group today to find out more about lofexidine and how it can help you.
The use of medication to treat drug addiction and abuse
Drug addiction is usually treated with a combination of detox and rehab. The aim of a drug addiction treatment programme is to stop a person abusing drugs but in most residential rehab treatments doctors can and do prescribe medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapses and maintain sobriety. The symptoms of opiate withdrawal can be severe and medically assisted addiction treatment has helped countless people overcome their drug addiction.
Drug rehab is extremely difficult, and in some cases dangerous, because drug abuse makes your body physically dependent on your drug of choice. Once you are physically addicted to drugs, in order to detox safely and rehab successfully, you need to be carefully monitored and may be prescribed medication to help reduce cravings, alleviate discomfort and lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Medically assisted detox is often unavoidable when treating addicts with co-occurring disorders like mental health problems. If you suffer from anxiety and depression you will be prescribed medication to control the symptoms of these co-occurring disorders during detox and rehab.
Whether or not you are prescribed medication during rehab will depend on your addiction. Medically assisted detox and rehab is not effective for all types of addiction and will only be recommended if it has been approved for the specific type of drug that you are addicted to. The type of drugs that you take, the frequency of your drug use, the length of time that you have been taking drugs and the severity of your habit will all play a role in determining whether medically-assisted addiction treatment would be helpful and appropriate in your specific case and which medication will have the best results. If you are given replacement or substitute drugs, they will be administered in tapering doses over a short period of time.
When you enter a rehab facility, a medical professional will assess your condition and take into consideration your overall health, age and any underlying physical or mental health problems before prescribing any medication.