Essex, TN (PressExposure) June 24, 2009 -- Medications are some of the most popular and in-demand forms of treatments used for addiction, may it be drug or alcohol addiction. Medications vary. This is because therapists and specialists are careful not to cause undesirable effects upon using a particular medication for a specific addiction. An example of medication causing undesirable effects is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is known as an effective opioid medication for heroin or morphine. However, when buprenorphine is used simulatanuously with CNS depressants such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, it may lead to to fatal respiratory depression. Fortunately, other than drugs used for specific addiction, there are popular medications that can be used for both alcoholism and opioid dependence such as naltrexone.
Naltrexone is one of the many medications used today in adolescent addiction treatment for both opioid and alcohol dependence. For opioid dependence, it can be used as a rapid detoxification medication. The principle of rapid detoxification involves inducing opioid-receptor blockade while the patient is in a state of impaired consciousness so as to attenuate the withdrawal symptoms experienced by the patient.
Naltrexone for Opioid Dependence
The usefulness of naltrexone as an adult and adolescent addiction treatment for opioid dependence is very limited because of the low retention in treatment. Like disulfiram in alcohol dependence, it temporarily blocks substance intake and does not affect craving. Though sustained-release preparations of naltrexone have shown rather promising results, it remains a treatment only for a small part of the opioid dependent population, usually the ones with an unusually stable social situation and motivation (e.g. dependent health care professionals). It is given orally by physicians to help reduce the side effects of opiate dependence.
Naltrexone implants have been used succesfully in Australia for a number of years as part of a long-term protocol for treating opiate addiction. Although Naltrexone treats the physical dependence on opioids, further psychosocial interventions are often required to enable people to maintain abstinence.
Naltrexone for Alcoholism
Naltrexone is used in two very different forms of adult and adolescent addiction treatment. The first treatment uses naltrexone to decrease cravings for alcohol and encourage abstinence. The other treatment, called pharmacological extinction, combines naltrexone with normal drinking habits in order to reverse the endorphin conditioning that causes alcohol addiction. This result in a reduced desire to drink that persists after naltrexone use is discontinued, as long as the patient always takes naltrexone before drinking.