Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, can be used to treat opium addiction just as it can be used to treat addiction to other opioids, both natural and synthetic. Even though the drug is not as well tolerated as other medications, it can be a beneficial treatment for certain individuals.
How Does Naltrexone Work to Treat Opium Addiction?
According to the National Library of Medicine, the drug “works by decreasing the craving for alcohol and blocking the effects of opiate medications and opioid street drugs.” It cannot be taken while a person is still in detoxification because it triggers a withdrawal reaction in any person who is dependent on opioids. This is helpful, though, when an individual is no longer in withdrawal and needs to avoid opium cravings and the possibility of relapse. The drug is long-acting and only needs to be taken three times a week.
Why is There a Low Tolerance Among Addicts?
Despite its many perks, naltrexone is not as well tolerated by most addicts as methadone or buprenorphine normally are. This is because it can be difficult to take naltrexone faithfully, and many individuals just stop taking the drug altogether. Naltrexone can be difficult to cope with, especially in the face of relapse, and many people choose not to take the drug for this reason.
“But even if most addicts will not continue to take the drug, some may –– especially physicians and other middle-class patients who are highly motivated to get free of the opiate because they have so much to lose from a persistent addiction” (Harvard Medical School). While these are not the populations most associated with opium abuse, some individuals in these situations may choose naltrexone because they know they have the discipline necessary to stick with it.
Can Naltrexone Be Part of a Well-rounded Opium Addiction Treatment Program?
In many cases, naltrexone users will also attend group therapy sessions, either in a professional setting or through a 12-step group like Narcotics Anonymous. The treatment lends itself well to a full treatment program that also utilizes therapy and other options because the individual will be through with their withdrawal and ready to work hard to see positive changes in their life.
Should I Take Naltrexone as an Opium Addiction Treatment?
“An addict who takes naltrexone faithfully will never relapse,” according to Harvard Medical School, but the treatment itself can be very difficult to tolerate. Still, if you believe you can take the medication as intended and do all you can to avoid the possibility of further drug abuse, then this treatment may be for you. It is important, though, to ask your doctor if they recommend naltrexone, as the medication can only be taken by prescription.
If you have a strong desire to avoid the consequences of relapse and understand the side effects of naltrexone, you can discuss the possibility of being treated with the medication with your doctor. If you would like to learn about naltrexone, call us at 800-429-5210.