Does Naltrexone Help With Alcohol Problems?
Naltrexone implants are the latest buzz word in opiate addiction treatment and often perceived as a bulletproof vest in fighting active addiction. But does naltrexone help with alcohol problems? Do naltrexone implants actually work, and what are they?
Naltrexone is a synthesised medical drug that blocks the effects of opiates. As well as treating heroin and opiate addiction, it also blocks the effects of alcohol and therefore, has proven helpful in treating alcoholism.
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist which has no psychoactive effects when administered. It is used as a relapse prevention treatment and inserted under the skin as an implant. The implant is slow-release, meaning that there is no need for daily medication.
Naltrexone can only be fitted once a full alcohol detox or opiate detox has been completed and should be used as part of a comprehensive recovery programme in order for the individual to fully benefit.
How long naltrexone implants last
Once fitted, a naltrexone implant releases therapeutic doses of medication for approximately 6 months. For some individuals, they may feel that this is enough time in order to solidify their recovery. Others may opt for further implants as are comforted by the reassurance it provides.
Statistically, most relapses on drugs and alcohol occur within the first two years of sobriety, after which they dramatically drop. This is worth considering, especially if you are an individual who has suffered multiple relapses before.
If a person drinks alcohol or takes an opiate whilst they have a naltrexone implant fitted, they will not be able to get drunk or high. The urge to drink or take more drugs is also reduced as naltrexone blocks the substances euphoric effects by working on the brain.
Why therapy is necessary to ensure naltrexone works
Naltrexone is not a magical cure for alcoholism or drug addiction; it is a relapse prevention treatment. Addiction cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Once the alcohol or drugs have been safely removed through a medical detox, it is essential that the psychological aspect of this life-threatening illness (addiction) is addressed comprehensively.
Individuals who use alcohol and drugs to escape themselves and their problems need to learn how to manage their emotions and live a sober life. Prior to stopping alcohol or drugs, their whole world will have revolved around getting and taking their next drink or drug.
A therapeutic recovery programme addresses all aspects of the individuals being and assists in bringing about a huge shift in thinking and perspective. We have found that this is necessary in order to maintain recovery from addiction on a long term basis.
Addiction manifests in dysfunctional and obsessive thought patterns that are only relieved by taking a drink, drug or engaging in a certain behaviour. This is why professional therapy and evidence-based treatments are necessary. They unearth and heal the root causes of addiction as well as providing the individual with a recovery “toolbox”.
By undergoing an intensive drug or alcohol rehabilitation programme, the individual will learn proven ways of changing their thinking and managing their own emotions. They are also taught how to remain accountable for their actions and learn from their mistakes.
Can naltrexone work without rehab?
If an individual does not undergo rehabilitation for addiction, they can potentially cause just as much damage to themselves and to their lives through unhealthy behaviours. It can come to a point where they think recovery is a waste of time and too painful to bear – and yes, they could decide to remove the implant or attempt to take it out themselves.
A naltrexone implant should not be considered a solution to addiction on its own. This is why we place great emphasis on addiction rehabilitation treatment, continued monitoring and aftercare.
What naltrexone can be used to treat
Naltrexone is useful in assisting recovery from any opiate-based drug dependence and in treating moderate to severe alcohol consumption. It works on the brain by reversing the effects of opiates and opioids so the person cannot get high.
As naltrexone reverses the effects of opiate drugs, it can only be used once a full detox has been completed and the individual is clear of alcohol and all opiate-based drugs and medications. Using naltrexone before a detox will send an individual into immediate withdrawal, this can be unmanageable and dangerous.
Naltrexone also reduces drug and alcohol cravings. This combined with the fact that it prevents the individual from getting high acts as a substantial deterrent to relapse.
Naltrexone can be useful in assisting recovery from any opioid-based dependence/addiction, including the following commonly abused drugs:
It is okay to have a helping hand in recovery
Some old school recovering alcoholics and addicts will undoubtedly argue that use of naltrexone is “cheating” and not conducive to “real” recovery. We feel that this opinion can be harmful and possibly deter certain individuals who would benefit from trying naltrexone.
The first step in recovery from any substance-based addiction is abstinence, and this is what naltrexone assists with. An individual in recovery is far less likely to relapse with a fitted naltrexone implant – It would be pretty pointless and could even be dangerous.
Some addicted individuals battle continually with the obsession to use drugs and alcohol, even though these very things have destroyed their lives and their relationships. This is sadly the nature of addiction and why there is such a high relapse rate of 40-60 percent amongst those who go through treatment.
Anything that helps prevent an individual from picking up the first drink or drug should be considered valuable. Combining naltrexone with a solid recovery programme and therapy enables the individual to change and grow without the worry of relapse. It also provides reassurance for their family and loved ones.
If you or a loved one are thinking of having a naltrexone implant fitted, please ensure you use a qualified practitioner. For more information on accessing naltrexone treatment, call us and speak Detox Plus UK today.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism