Opioids are usually safe when prescribed by doctors to relieve chronic pain caused by injuries, surgeries, dental procedures or even cancer. Although not harmful when used appropriately, opioids can lead to addiction when misused. For many people battling with an opioid addiction, naltrexone can be the best option to reduce cravings. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication works by blocking the sedative and euphoric effects of drugs like heroin, morphine and codeine or other such prescription medications. Extended-release injectable naltrexone has gained popularity for an effective treatment of people with opioid addiction.
A 2017 study conducted by the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, indicated that it is easier for opioid-dependent individuals to transition to extended-release (XR) injection naltrexone (Vivitrol) if they had received naltrexone-assisted detoxification earlier. The study conducted on 150 individuals indicated that the success rate was thrice as much for those who received a naltrexone-based detox, as compared to those who received buprenorphine detox. When it comes to choosing a treatment plan for opioid abuse, one can either opt for opioid maintenance treatment or detoxification. In most instances, the patient chooses both.
Naltrexone-assisted patients successfully transitioned to XR-naltrexone induction
Antagonist medications like naltrexone are usually given to expedite the treatment process and to prevent a relapse post treatment. Naltrexone is a full opioid antagonist, i.e., a medication that completely blocks the opioid receptors. Once the receptors are blocked, no matter what substance the person tries, the desired effect of drugs or alcohol does not appear. One of the major advantages of oral naltrexone, as explained by Maria Sullivan, the lead author of the study, is that patients can transition directly to XR-naltrexone without a waiting period.
In contrast, buprenorphine, which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid abuse, fires up the opioid receptors in the brain, however, it does not have the potency of methadone, heroin or oxycodone. In medical settings, a person receiving detox through buprenorphine is finally tapered off. Moreover, a washout period, or a waiting time, is required before the individual could be administered XR-naltrexone.
In the present study, the researchers compared Naltrexone-assisted detox versus buprenorphine taper for opioid addiction. Of the 150 opioid-addicted adults allocated for the detoxification programs, 98 participants were allocated to the naltrexone-assisted detoxification, whereas 52 received the buprenorphine-assisted treatment. The treatment program was followed by counseling, along with programs to ensure that all the participants followed the guidelines for medication. Another core area addressed during the program was relapse prevention. Despite repeated attempts at detoxification, it is seen that many people ultimately relapse to their addictive behavior.
The study results can be summarized as follows:
- 1 percent of naltrexone-assisted patients, as compared to 32.7 percent of buprenorphine-assisted patients, had a successful XR-naltrexone induction.
- As compared to 50 percent of patients in naltrexone-assisted medication, only 26.9 percent in the buprenorphine group had successful second XR-naltrexone injection at the end of the fifth week.
Comparing the results, the researchers said, “By circumventing the need for a protracted period of abstinence and mitigating the severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced during detoxification, this strategy has the potential to considerably increase patient acceptability of, and access to, antagonist therapy.” The feasibility of injectable naltrexone is more apparent in scenarios, such as jails and detention centers, where almost half of the inmates are hooked on some or the other forms of illicit substance.
Detoxifying for a better life
Recuperation from addictive behaviors can be made possible only after following a strict and comprehensive treatment program. The detox process is imperative to prepare the body for complete abstention from the addictive substance.
If you or a loved one is addicted to any substance, get in touch with the Florida Detox Helpline to know about one of the best detox facilities in Florida. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-920-9869 or chat online with our representatives to get more information on the finest detox centers in Florida providing specialized treatment to ensure safe and comfortable detoxification.