Treating drug addiction is challenging and rehab specialists often need to use a combination of treatments in order to give addicts that best chance of a long-term recovery. Medically assisted detox and rehab have proved to be very effective for treating opioid addiction in conjunction with therapy, counselling and outpatient support.
An explanation of what Naltrexone is
Naltrexone, short for Naltrexone Hydrochloride, can be taken by mouth or injected into a muscle and is commonly prescribed as part of a comprehensive recovery programme for alcoholism and drug addiction. It is an opioid antagonist that is predominantly prescribed by a medical professional to manage alcohol, heroin or opioid dependence and lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid antagonists are drugs that are designed to inhibit mu, kappa, or delta opioid receptors and block the effects of externally administered opioids like morphine, fentanyl or heroin or internally released endorphins. As an opiate antagonist, naltrexone binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and reduces the feelings of pleasure that alcohol or heroin typically produce.
The effects of naltrexone can be felt within half an hour of it being administered, but it can take a few weeks for the cravings for drugs or alcohol to disappear. All medications can potentially be misused and abused but since naltrexone blocks the euphoria commonly associated with opioid addiction and alcoholism, it is not considered a highly addictive substance. There are however still dangers associated with the use of naltrexone and it can make you more sensitive to opioids and therefore more likely to overdose if you relapse and go back to your usual level of drug taking.
Naltrexone reduces your desire to drink and your cravings for alcohol or opiate based drugs. It only works effectively once all opioids have been purged from your body and therefore it is typically prescribed after detox to aid the rehab process and sustain sobriety. Naltrexone can be taken orally as a tablet once a day or injectable naltrexone can be administered once a month. Naltrexone is not a treatment on its own and should only be used under supervision as part of a holistic drug and alcohol treatment plan that includes therapy and counselling.
Brand names for Naltrexone include Vivitrol, Trexan, ReVia, Depade, Nalerona, Abernil, Naltrexona and Adepend.
The development of Naltrexone
Creating and developing new drugs takes a long time and significant financial commitment. Medication needs to go through a number of laboratory and clinical trials before it can be approved. Naltrexone was created by a New York pharmaceutical company called Endo Laboratories in 1963 and patented in 1967 as “Endo 1639A”. In 1965, pharmacist realised it was an extremely powerful long acting opioid antagonist that only had to be administered one time per day. DuPont bought Endo Laboratories in 1969. In 1973 Endo Laboratories set about conducting clinical trials of naltrexone to see if the drug could be used to treat addicts who had become addicted to opioids.
The FDA granted approval for naltrexone to be used orally for the treatment of opioid dependence in 1984 and it was initially sold as Trexan. In 1995 the brand name was changed, and Naltrexone was sold as ReVia and was given the approval to be used to treat alcohol dependence, with the UK following suit in 2011. In 2006 the intramuscular injection of naltrexone was approved for use in alcohol dependence and in 2010, now called Vivitrol, the injections were approved for the treatment of opioid dependence.
Studies have shown that naltrexone is as effective as buprenorphine in controlling addiction, but it can’t actually be taken until after detox has been completed and this makes buprenorphine more popular.
Side Effects of Naltrexone
Medications affect different people in different ways but the most common side effects of Naltrexone include:
- Anxiety, depression and panic attacks
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
In rare cases, naltrexone has been linked to liver damage when taken in higher than recommended doses and due to this, doctors will often check a person’s liver function before prescribing naltrexone and during treatment.
Drug and alcohol addiction are serious problems that require intervention and intensive treatment. Fortunately, with commitment from the addict, support from their family and effective rehab, it is possible to overcome addiction and regain control of your life. To find out more about naltrexone as a treatment for drug and alcohol addiction contact the Rehab Clinics Group.
Medication as part of a treatment programme for drug and alcohol addiction
Medication can be prescribed during the detox and rehab process to so that you can deal with the withdrawal symptoms and in some cases the medication is designed to prevent you experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Medication is at times prescribed to help you not drink and, in that way, stay sober and these medications generally make you feel sick or unwell when you consume alcohol or take drugs.
Drug and alcohol addiction is so hard to beat because the abuse of drugs and alcohol leads to physical changes in your body, ultimately making you dependent on your drug of choice. Once you have become physically dependent or addicted, it is extremely difficult to break the habit. Fortunately, medically assisted detox and rehab have helped countless people overcome their drug addiction and regain control of their lives.
As a key part of many drug rehabilitation programmes, doctors will prescribe substitute drugs or specific medications to help you through the detox and rehab process. Depending on the type of medication, it could be used to help control your cravings, reduce the severity of your withdrawal symptoms or make drinking and taking drugs extremely unpleasant, thereby increasing your chances of a successful long-term recovery.
The medication that you are prescribed during rehab will depend on your addiction. The type of drugs that you take, the frequency of drug use, the amount of time that you have been addicted and the severity of your habit all play a role in how successful medically assisted detox and rehab will be. When you enter a rehab facility, a team of specialists and medical professionals will assess your condition, taking into account your general health, age and any underlying physical or mental health problems, before prescribing medication to be administered during your detox or rehab programme.