Naltrexone Treatment for Drug Detox
Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the effects of heroin, methadone and other opiates. It can help patients remain abstinent from opiate and alcohol dependence. Given the recent success of the medication, it is no surprise when it comes to Naltrexone UK doctors are increasingly prescribing it for several dependencies.
Naltrexone enters the brain and nervous system and attaches itself to small areas called receptor sites. For heroin to produce effects, it must get these same receptor sites. Naltrexone stops heroin from getting to them for up to three days after a tablet dose. These receptors are part of the reward mechanism that motivates to do something again and again.
Block the reward and the craving and dependence reduce and new behaviours reassert themselves with time. It works well for opiate addiction and often, but less predictably, in alcohol dependence.
Why Take Naltrexone?
Naltrexone helps prevent relapse. Most heroin addicts have at least one relapse after getting clean. Research indicates that addicts who take Naltrexone regularly have a better chance of staying clean than those with other treatments.
Naltrexone is helpful to any opiate addict who wants to stop using opiates but who has never managed for long, or at all. Also for those who think that relying on willpower, NA or counselling alone will not work for them. It is also used by problem drinkers hoping to reduce relapses.
Is Naltrexone Addictive?
Definitely not. Even after several months, there are no withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. This is a big advantage of using it instead of other detox treatments such as benzodiazepines. If you tend to get addicted to substances you are at even more risk by taking anything that encourages dependence.
What is a Naltrexone Implant?
Implants are effective because they remove the risk of someone not taking the medication. Patients are much less likely to use heroin or other opiates during the period of treatment with implants.
If you prefer not to have an implant, taking it in tablet form is also possible. You will need a prescription either from a rehab or home detox doctor. The only issue with tablets is that people stop taking them in order to return to drinking or taking drugs. If you are dedicated to stopping this is less of an issue.
Because the medication lasts several days you would have to think several days in advance about relapsing which is not often the nature of the compulsive need for drugs or alcohol.
Naltrexone UK home detox providers only offer the medication on prescription after a consultation with a doctor.
How Effective is it?
It is extremely effective. Most addicts try using heroin soon after starting Naltrexone. Once they realise that smoking or injecting heroin does not affect them, they don’t usually waste their money by trying again.
Do Implants Have Side-Effects?
Naltrexone has very few side effects and only very rarely are serious. A few patients experience slight tiredness and indigestion, a temporary increase in anxiety or low mood. Naltrexone is not for people who have:
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease (including cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C)
If you take Naltrexone while you are physically addicted to heroin or other opiates, it will cause withdrawal symptoms within a few minutes. When you stop taking naltrexone and start using heroin, it is highly dangerous to take your usual dose of heroin right away.
Because of the way it affects the reward centre of the brain people always wonder if it will stop them from enjoying life. The good news is that it cannot change your natural happiness. Instead, people are usually very happy and pleased to be opiate or alcohol-free and protected from relapse.
Naltrexone vs Other Medications
Another study in The Lancet compared naltrexone to buprenorphine and results show that naltrexone is just as effective as buprenorphine once the patient has started taking it. However, you cannot start naltrexone until after detoxification.
This is because naltrexone only works once all opioids had been eliminated from the system during a programme of detox. The conclusion was that while both drugs were effective once treatment had begun, buprenorphine had the advantage in that it can be administered before a full detox had been completed.
Combined with Counselling
We advise all addicts to attend a residential rehab programme to provide the addiction treatment often required in helping a patient abstain.
Although Naltrexone is very effective all studies show results that included counselling as well. The medication alone is not enough to stop an addiction.
Inpatient rehab will provide a counsellor and group therapy during your stay. This will help get to the root cause of why you drink or take drugs.
For many people, CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) will reveal parts of their lifestyle or social circle that are leading them on a destructive path. Over half of those in rehab find undiagnosed mental health conditions are at the heart of addiction.
Naltrexone is a helping hand to give you pause when considering relapsing. Truly understanding and finding a new path to happiness and fulfilment is the only way to be sure of recovery.