Medication For Both Alcohol And Opioid Addiction

Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) July 17, 2009 -- Medication therapy is one of the many methods currently used by therapists today. This is because other than the use of group therapies and psychotherapies, medications are primarily used to cure the physical dependence of a person. One popular medication currently in use today is Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. It should not be confused with naloxone, which is used in emergency cases of overdose rather than for longer-term dependence control. While both naltrexone and naloxone are full antagonists and will treat an opioid overdose, naltrexone is longer-acting than naloxone, making naloxone a better emergency antidote.

Naltrexone for Alcoholism

The main use of naltrexone as an adult and adolescent addiction treatment is for the treatment of alcohol dependence. After publication of the first two randomized, controlled trials in 1992, a number of studies has confirmed its efficacy in reducing frequency and severity of relapse to drinking. The multi-center COMBINE study has recently proved the usefulness of naltrexone in an ordinary, primary care setting, without adjunct psychotherapy. Naltrexone has two effects on alcohol consumption.

* The first is to reduce craving while naltrexone is being taken. This effect only persists while the naltrexone is being taken. * The second, referred to as the Sinclair Method, occurs when naltrexone is taken in conjunction with normal drinking, and this reduces craving over time. The second persists as long as the alcoholic does not drink without first taking naltrexone.

Clinical trials for this medication as an adult and adolescent addiction treatment were done with a focus on alcohol, presumably due to the larger number of alcoholics that it could be used to treat. However, Alkermes was asked to run a safety study for the off-label use of the injection for opiate addicts. This was found to be a successful use of the medication in patients who were single drug abusers, though multi-drug abusers would generally decrease their opiate use and increase their use of other drugs (i.e. cocaine) while on the injection.

Naltrexone for Heroin Addiction

Other than alcoholism, naltrexone as an adult and adolescent addiction treatment also helps patients overcome urges to abuse opiates by blocking the drugs’ euphoric effects. Some patients do well with it, but the oral formulation, the only one available to date, has a drawback: it must be taken daily, and a patient whose craving becomes overwhelming can obtain opiate euphoria simply by skipping a dose before resuming abuse.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: July 16, 2009 at 8:54 pm
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