Treatments for opiate addiction have certainly evolved over the years. Scientists have developed amazing ways to help people recover from substance abuse and regain control over their lives. One of the most popular drugs used in helping treat addiction is Naltrexone. This drug is an opioid antagonist that blocks the receptors from registering the effects of alcohol and opioids in the brain. This means they help curb abuse, prevent relapse and sustain recovery for a person suffering from opioid addiction and alcoholism. The most recent advancement in the use of this medication is a naltrexone implant that actually goes into one’s muscle tissue to slowly release the medication, without having to take a daily pill or receive uncomfortable injections! We will discuss in further in this article.

Naltrexone Implants

Naltrexone implants are gaining popularity these days as one of the most effective way to resolve opioid addiction. But what are they? How do they work? Are they really effective? 

A naltrexone implant is a small pellet that can be inserted under the skin. Once inserted, it will slowly release the medication over a period of time, usually 2 to 6 months. There are also an oral form of naltrexone which is also used to treat opioid dependency in the United States. Implants have been used in countries like Australia and Europe, but while the oral and injectable form of naltrexone is FDA-approved, the implant version has not been approved by the FDA to be used in the U.S.. However, you can still get one under the care of trained and licensed healthcare providers.

How It Works

Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of opioid and alcohol within the brain receptors. This means that this drug minimizes/blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. If combined with behavioral modification and therapy, it could reduce the cravings for alcohol and drugs like heroin, morphine, OxyContin, Fentanyl, and more.

However, as with any drug treatment or medication, the naltrexone implant is not a substitute for the hard work of addiction recovery. For optimum results, patients are strongly encouraged to supplement the drug treatment with individual therapy, group therapy, and peer support group attendance. The physical dependence is only a small part of the issues that allow addiction to persist in one’s life. If the other aspects such as trauma, stress, mental illness, home life, etc are not addressed and managed, long-term recovery is unlikely. It is crucial that the naltrexone implant is used alongside regular psychotherapy treatments as a supplement, rather than a replacement. If you truly want to become sober for life, it is necessary to uncover and remedy the root cause of the addiction so that it does not come back into your life.

Effects of Naltrexone

The side effects of naltrexone can vary depending on the following:

  • The amount or dosage taken.
  • The size, weight, and overall health of the person taking it.
  • If the person is used to taking naltrexone.
  • If they have taken other drugs besides naltrexone at the same time. 

Side effects may also vary but usually go away after a few days of taking the medication. The most common side effects of naltrexone include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Feelings of tiredness
  • Sleep problems or insomnia
  • Vomiting

There are also less common side effects that you must watch out for. These are:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Depression and irritability
  • Delayed ejaculation or decreased potency
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling energetic
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Chills

Naltroxene could also affect the mental coordination or alertness of the user. Users must immediately seek medical help if they exhibit these symptoms:

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Pain in the upper right area of the abdomen that can be felt for more than a few days
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored stools
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

How effective is the naltrexone implant?

Although there aren’t an abundance of studies that have been done on Naltrexone implants, the handful that have examined the drug’s effectiveness have been very promising. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 56 published the results of a study done in Norway, which showed that patients who used the naltrexone implant for 180 days had an average of 45 fewer days of heroin use and 60 fewer days of opioid use than members in the control group. Additionally, in the Drug and Alcohol Review, researchers examined a variety of data points from 9 studies that compared naltrexone implant treatment to either oral naltrexone or a placebo (no naltrexone at all). Across all 9 of these studies, naltrexone implants were shown to be significantly more effective than oral naltrexone, and significantly more effective than no treatment at all with the placebo group. These results indicate a promising future for these implants.

Support for Someone on Naltrexone Program

Someone who is taking naltrexone needs both practical and emotional support. For those who want to support a loved one, they must work with the person undergoing the treatment and must include informing the physician in case a problem arises during the treatment. These are some ways that friends and family members can help:

  • Going to appointments with your loved one.
  • Knowing what to do in case of an overdose.
  • Encouraging the recovering loved one to develop their social network, relationships and encourage positive, healthy activities to help them recover quickly. 
  • Attend any counseling if the situation asks for it. 

Supporting someone in recovery is an important and challenging role. This means you also have to take care of yourself and arrange your own support networks. By doing this, you can also provide them the support they need. 

The use of this implant is still controversial in the United States because it hasn’t been approved by the FDA, so finding a doctor who can place the implant may be challenging. In case you cannot find someone who can provide the implant, the oral form, as well as the injectable naltrexone, is widely used and available at many treatment centers in the U.S. Naltrexone implants in Arizona and naltrexone implants in Scottsdale are available only by a few accredited and experienced doctors. Reach out for more information on Naltrexone Implants today!

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