Naltrexone for Heroin Addiction
Opiate addiction, which includes heroin addiction, is a powerful force with horrendous consequences. Fortunately, naltrexone can ease its grip and assist a person who’s on the road to recovery.
Some doctors even give their patients naltrexone if they’ve taken opioid pain relievers. This helps prevent opioid abuse and heroin usage later on.
An Introduction to Naltrexone
Naltrexone, which has the endorsement of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is usually taken in tablet form. Alternatively, it can be injected in the gluteal region. Patients typically take three to seven tablets per week, or they can go for an injection once a month.
This drug is available under a variety of brand names, and it is not addictive. Its common side effects are generally minimal, and they include headaches, nausea and disrupted sleep patterns. Many health insurance companies will cover the cost of naltrexone.
Doctors prescribe naltrexone to patients who have detoxed — that is, those who suffer from opiate dependence but who are not currently taking opioids. In other words, its primary function is to help people avoid drug relapses during their periods of opiate withdrawal. Without naltrexone, those withdrawals can be excruciating.
How Does Naltrexone Work?
When a person takes a narcotic or something that acts like a narcotic, naltrexone will stand between it and the body’s mu receptors. Receptors are cell molecules that take in information, and mu receptors respond to narcotics and alcohol.
Mu receptors are found in intestines and all over the nervous system. They let people attain a sense of elation after they inject or otherwise take in heroin.
When naltrexone is in the body, narcotics aren’t able to bind to the mu receptors. Therefore, they can’t give people who are addicted to opioids the highs that they’re craving. In fact, heroin and other opioids might make them feel a little ill instead.
Thus, even if a patient were to relapse and start taking heroin or another narcotic again, the strength of his or her addiction would likely wane. Without those feelings of euphoria, the brain loses interest, so to speak, in the narcotic as time passes.
As a side note here, naltrexone in lower doses may someday help people who are suffering from certain disorders and diseases, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. However, scientists must do further research before such treatments could become available.
Naltrexone: A Vital Piece of the Recovery Puzzle
In all of this, it’s important to remember the limitations of naltrexone. As effective as it is, it is not a cure for addiction in itself. Rather, it must be used in conjunction with other methodologies, including ongoing counseling at a drug addiction treatment center.
In addition, while naltrexone will prevent a person from feeling high, it won’t stop the other effects of a narcotic like heroin. As a result, physical impairments and overdoses can still take place.
Finally, know that AMC Treatment Center offers naltrexone for heroin addiction. Please feel free to get in touch with the Center at any time for more details or to schedule an appointment. Also, if you believe that a loved one is struggling with an opiate dependence, you may refer him or her to us. This action will initiate a process that can save a life and make a life well worth living.