What is naltrexone?
Naltrexone, or naltrexone hydrochloride, is an opioid receptor antagonist. Naltrexone is used in treating primarily opioid dependence and alcohol dependence.It was approved for treating alcohol dependence in 1994, and a number of scientific studies have confirmed its positive effects in reducing alcohol relapses and their severity. The studies also showed that naltrexone is very effective in reducing heavy drinking in people who continue to drink while taking naltrexone.
In terms of naltrexone’s effectiveness in overcoming opioids dependence, its main feature is that it functions as opioid antagonist. It has been approved as treatment for opioid addiction by the FDA since 1984. Naltrexone has the property to bind to the opioid receptors in the body, and to block the effects of the opioid. In return, naltrexone has no opiate effect by itself. Unlike methadone, morphine or heroine, naltrexone does not produce an opioid effect. If a person has consumed Naltrexone and then use opioids, he will not feel the effect of the drug he has taken, because Naltrexone has prevented the receptors from binding with the opioid drug.
Rapid detoxification – Naltrexone Implant
In some cases naltrexone is used for rapid detoxification for opioid dependence. Rapid detoxification is conducted under general anesthesia or lighter sedation. Still, it is intended mainly as an initial step and it requires an overall drug rehabilitation program. A naltrexone implant may help the rehabilitation program by providing the patient with an adequate dose of naltrexone for longer periods of time.
Zero tolerance to opioids – Naltrexone Implant
However, one of the important effects of naltrexone is that it removes tolerance to opioid drugs, which many persons with addiction develop after a long-term drug abuse. This presents a great risk of overdose in a case of relapse. The effects of the naltrexone can also be disputed when consumed orally, since many addicts do not stick to the prescribed doses. One of the ways to be sure that the addict has a regular and continuous dose of naltrexone over longer periods of time is using a naltrexone implant.
What is a naltrexone implant?
The naltrexone implant provides a sustained dose of the medication to the patient, surpassing the problem with missing doses. The implant is inserted in the body, usually in the abdominal area, where it releases the drug in a period of several months. In a clinical trial conducted in Saint Petersburg in Russia, more than 50% of heroin-addicted patients maintained abstinence. The trail reported that patients with naltrexone implant averted relapse to heroin three times more effectively than users that consumed the medication orally. Furthermore, oral naltrexone had a statistically insignificant higher rate of remission than placebo.
Opioid antagonist therapy may be a better option than opioid agonist therapy, like morphine. Patients tend to avoid the latter due to the risks of overdose and, furthermore, some systems incline to ban the use of agonist medications. Naltrexone implants are a relatively new method in fighting addiction, but they are most effective in the crucial stages of rehabilitation and preventing the quick relapse.
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