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Naltrexone can be good alternative treatment for opioid addiction, says study

05-30 | By CSAA Team

Naltrexone can be good alternative treatment for opioid addiction, says study

Heroin and opioid addiction is a complex disorder that takes a toll on millions of Americans. The feel-good factor and the “high” associated with substance use make people overlook their negative consequences. However, when addicts decide to get clean, they should opt for treatment programs that can help them cope with cravings, avoid the substance, and deal with possible relapses.

A recent study by the Center for Studies of Addiction at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that drug naltrexone, when administered once a month, was more effective at preventing drug relapse in ex-prisoners addicted to heroin and other opioids compared to the usual treatment modalities, including counseling and community treatment programs.

Naltrexone may help recently detoxified patients

Published online in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2016, the study said that naltrexone has become a treatment of choice and may be most useful for highly motivated recently detoxified patients who want total abstinence and for individuals who are in early stages of their addiction.

Approved in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for opioid dependence, naltrexone has been widely used to treat prisoners despite limited data on its effectiveness. The researchers at the Center for Studies of Addiction conducted a six-month long study on 153 ex-prisoners addicted to opioids. They were treated with an extended-release naltrexone (XR-NTX), while the control group comprising 155 persons did not get any medication but received just the usual treatment of counseling and community treatment programs.

After 24 weeks, 64 percent (99) of the control group relapsed, while only 43 percent of those receiving naltrexone relapsed during the same time period. Most notably, those members of the treatment group who did relapse reportedly used less heroin and other painkillers compared to those in the control group. Zero overdoses were detected in the treatment group compared to the control group, even after 18 months of the treatment.

Charles O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair of Psychiatry, founding director of Penn’s Center for Studies of Addiction, and a senior author of the study, said, “If someone is scheduled to get out of prison with a history of opioid addiction, you could give them one injection, and at least for the next month, they cannot relapse. Normally, they relapse the same day.”

Path to recovery

More than 28,000 Americans died due to heroin and painkiller overdoses in 2014, but less than half of the 2.2 million people who needed treatment are actually receiving it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It seems a time will come when it will be difficult to get medicines to treat an addiction than to get drugs for addiction, says the CDC.

Amid the worst epidemic of unintentional drug overdose in the U.S. history, both the federal and the state governments are doing their best to combat the problem of prescription drug abuse and heroin use. Nearly half of the Americans are taking one or more prescription medications, with four in five new heroin users usually starting out by misusing prescription drugs.

If you or your loved one is battling addiction, now is the time to act and lead a happy drug-free life. Get in touch with the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors today to learn more about various substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online for substance abuse treatment programs in Colorado.


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