Drug addiction is a disease. Most of people who suffer from drug addiction can’t recover without medical help. One of the best ways to get rid of a drug addiction is to have a naltrexone treatment. But, keep in mind that there are three equally important parts of drug addiction treatment:

  • medication
  • counseling
  • family support

Naltrexone is a long acting opioid antagonist. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain and therefor blocks the effects of heroin and other opioids. People who are under naltrexone protection can’t achieve the “high” from using heroin. Naltrexone neither produces euphoria not creates a new addiction. For that reason Naltrexone is not a substitution therapy, when one addictive drug is changed for another (Methadone or Buprenorphine/Subutex). Due to absence of addictive properties, Naltrexone doesn’t cause withdrawal symptoms when it is stopped taken.

Naltrexone treatment

Naltrexone treatment is the best choice for people who passed opioid detoxification and highly motivated to stay in recovery. In means of prophylactic measures the Naltrexone program is the best option to prevent a relapse to opioid use. However, Naltrexone is not a miracle medicine. The success of naltrexone treatment also depends on person’s level of commitment to treatment and the level of support available to him.

Naltrexone doesn’t cure craving for drugs. For that reason and for obtaining the best result from naltrexone therapy the patient is recommended to take part in a treatment program that deals with both the physical and psychological aspects of drug addiction. It is also recommended to stay out of the environment in which drugs are readily available.

There are two certain criteria making a person eligible for naltrexone program.

1. The person must be clean out of opioids for at least 7–10 days before starting the treatment. The urine test for opioids must be negative. The candidate has to pass a naloxone challenge test, when he receives intravenous injection of Naloxone (short acting opioid antagonist), followed by 20 minutes of monitoring for signs of withdrawal. No withdrawal symptoms means that the body is clean from opioids. Otherwise the risk of developing immediate acute withdrawal syndrome after receiving the full dose of Naltrexone is very high.

2. The person must be free from existing concomitant liver conditions, such as acute hepatitis or cirrhosis.

The maintenance dose of Naltrexone is 50mg daily. Adherence to oral medication can be difficult for some patients with poor compliance to treatment. Depot injection is a specially designed, sterilized oily form of Naltrexone for intramuscular use . The Naltrexone is slowly released over during one month. The advantage of this time release form of Naltrexone is that there is no surgical complications.

Naltrexone implantshave the form of small pellets placed under the skin in a low abdomen area.

Naltrexone implants release controlled amount of Naltrexone into patient’s body during the pointed time. Blocking effect on opiates depends on kind of implant and can last for 2 and 3 months. Implantation of a pellet is a minor surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia. It involves 1.5cm skin incision, inserting the implant and closing the wound with two stitches. Surgery takes only 10 minutes to be done. Occasional local inflammation of implant site is possible and well responds to antibiotics or anti-inflammatories.

Naltrexone implants

Having an implant, there is no need in remembering of a daily Naltrexone tablet. The patient is under constant naltrexone protection from opioids. This important factor allows the convalescent to move on from opiates. Naltrexone treatment can last for 2 and 3 months – as long as is needed to prevent relapse. The length of treatment depends on the individual’s situation.

Usually Naltrexone is generally well tolerated. However, there are some side effects. The most common side side effects include: mild sleep disorders, anxiety, skin rash, nausea, loss of appetite, low energy, headache. Most of these symptoms usually occur during the first week of treatment.

There are few very important moments that the patient receiving naltrexone therapy must be aware.

1. While the person is taking Naltrexone, the opioid containing painkillers don’t work for him due to effect of blocked opioid receptors. If, for some reasons, the person needs strong painkillers, the different kind of pain relievers must be prescribed. An emergency wallet card is a good way of alerting the medical staff that the patient is receiving Naltrexone.

2. There is a risk of overdose. While a person is on Naltrexone, he can’t get high from the “usual” dose of heroin. However, if he keeps going on larger doses of heroin, he runs the risk of overdose. Overdose may also occur if the person takes a “usual” dose of heroin either after naltrexone dose has been skipped or if the person stops taking Naltrexone altogether. It happens due to the effect of reduced tolerance.

Naltrexone program works best if it is used in connection with an overall treatment regime, such as anti drug craving therapy, psychological therapy, counseling and support group therapy.

Nowadays Naltrexone Program is considered as the most effective treatment in means of prophylactic and recovery from opioid drug addiction.