Naltrexone promising for alcoholism and SUD

NaltrexonePeople addicted to alcohol and other substances may have certain behavioral changes that are not healthy for them and even for the people they live amongst. This therefore means that specific actions should be taken to offer them assistance as they fight addiction to be able to quite these unhealthy cognitive behaviors. Most people addicted to alcoholism and other substances of abuse will experience dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors and cognitive processes. All these need to be addressed to help the person to overcome. There are several therapies that can be used either singly or in collaboration with other therapies to help in this process. One of these therapies is the cognitive behavioral therapy often shortened as CBT.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for substance use disorders has demonstrated efficacy when used as a monotherapy as well as when used with other treatment strategies.  There are articles that have been written that support the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, clinical elements of its application, novel treatment strategies for improving treatment response, and dissemination efforts. Although CBT for substance abuse is characterized by heterogeneous treatment elements such as operant learning strategies, cognitive and motivational elements, and skills building interventions across protocols several core elements emerge that focus on overcoming the powerfully reinforcing effects of psychoactive substances.  Apart from CBT there are also other methods that are used in treating people that are alcohol and other substances dependence. One of these options is the use of Naltrexone.

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a synthetic drug that is similar to morphine. It is used in treatment of alcohol and heroine addictions. It works by blocking opiate receptors in the nervous system. It helps people to stay away from alcohol as it lowers the cravings for alcohol.

Naltrexone is a medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Meta-analyses of studies on the impact of Naltrexone medication has demonstrated positive effects on outcomes this treatment was found to work even better in helping the addicts to abstain from taking alcohol. Based on the accumulated evidence of the effectiveness of this medication it received strong recommendations as evidence-based treatments for alcohol dependence in the National Quality Forum’s National Voluntary Consensus Standards for the Treatment of Substance Use Conditions, as well as the VA/Department of Defense Clinical Practice Guidelines for Management of Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Based on these guideline recommendations, the “VA Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook” states that naltrexone and another drug known as acamprosate should be offered and be made available to all Veterans diagnosed with alcohol dependence, if not medically contraindicated. Also noteworthy is that a recent meta-analysis of seven placebo-controlled randomized trials of a newer medication, topiramate, found it had a more positive overall effect size than that from the first seven trials of naltrexone. This therefore makes it is a very promising medication.

However with all the accumulated evidence, clinical practice guideline recommendations, and VA policy, implementation of these medications within the VA healthcare system has been low overall, and highly variable. Among the more than 200,000 VA patients with a documented alcohol dependence diagnosis, less than 6% have received an approved medication. The majority of VA patients with alcohol dependence diagnoses (65%) are never seen in specialty substance use disorder clinics. However, even among those seen in specialty clinics, prescribing rates remain below 10%, with rates varying from 0% to 21% across facilities. Extremely low prescribing rates and significant variation across facilities suggest that significant gaps exist in access to these medications. Owing to their effectiveness they should be made available to every patient.

In most cases the medications for alcohol and substance abuse dependence are approached as cocktail where various strategies are used in treatment of the patient. It is however recommended that naltrexone should be part of the treatment offered and made available to patients with alcohol dependence. This is because of their effectiveness in fighting alcohol as well as other substances dependence

The role of naloxone rescue in Heroin users

Naloxone is a drug that has found favor with most health experts owing to its effectiveness in fighting heroin overdose. For WHO it is an essential drug. The use of naloxone in health institutions is legal since it is approved by food and drug act (FDA).  Not long ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new hand-held auto-injector of naloxone. This device may be of great help to family members of heroin addicts as well as caregivers.

How does it work?

NaltrexoneIn case of and heroin overdose, the respiratory and central nervous systems are depressed to life-threatening levels and the addict may stop breathing. When this happens is no action is taken the patient may die. So when the person is treated with naloxone the drug will block the heroine receptors hence making it impossible for it to bind on the receptors that are located in the brain and spinal cord.

Finally, dependence to any substance is dangerous and so should be fought seriously. Here at AWAREmed we are dedicated to finding the best solutions to all addicts and that is why Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) is always in the forefront advocating for integrative medicine since it is only through integrative medicine that a person can be healed wholly. Do not hesitate to call on her for help in managing any sort of drug addiction as well as other diseases.

Naltrexone promising for alcoholism and SUD