Cataclysm struck the United States when the nonmedical use of prescriptions painkillers hit unprecedented levels. This resulted in an increase in overdose-related deaths by over 2.5 times from 1999 to 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite the continuous effort of the federal government, the misuse of prescription medications has not been abated at a great scale.
Nevertheless, due to the unrelenting efforts of law enforcement agencies, medical personnel, media, researchers and advocates, the U.S. government has been able to fortify its defenses and is far more equipped to better manage prescription drug abuse.
Besides the above efforts, treatment of opioid addiction using narcotic antagonists like naltrexone plays a key role in gradually decreasing the practice of self-medication prevalent among the users. Fortunately, the consumption of naltrexone has comparatively less side effects. Though compliance to medications and other elements of a specified treatment is essential, it can turn out to be a blessing for the highly motivated users during the detoxification process.
Administration of XR-naltrexone assists in opioid detox
Though not every individual who abuse prescription drugs or opioids overdose on their medications, a much larger segment of opioid users develops opioid use disorder (OUD). One of the reasons behind the curtailment of prescription drug abuse is the leading position of the U.S. in conducting both qualitatively and quantitatively unparalleled research that has resulted in the discovery of the extended-release injectable form of naltrexone (XR-naltrexone) that has proven its efficacy in the reduction of relapse rates amidst the patients with OUD.
Unfortunately, the 10-day abstinence period that requires patients with OUD to refrain from opioid use before they can receive the treatment acts as a barrier that dissuades the use of the opioid antagonist. A study that was conducted to measure the efficacy of two methods of outpatient opioid detoxification for XR-naltrexone that can circumvent the abstinence period and lessen the withdrawal symptoms to ensure better results. The findings of the study were published online in The American Journal of Psychiatry in January 2017.
The 150 participants for the study who were pursuing the treatment for heroin or opioid dependence were assigned to two different outpatient detoxification methods:
- Naltrexone-assisted detoxification: Following the seven-day detoxification period, participants were further treated for a day with buprenorphine and then administered the increased doses of oral naltrexone, clonidine and other adjunctive medications to address severe withdrawal symptoms.
- Buprenorphine-assisted detoxification: Following the seven-day buprenorphine taper, patients had to wait another week before XR-naltrexone was administered as per the official prerequisites.
Henceforth, both groups of participants were involved in behavioral sessions that focused on the importance of medication adherence. It was followed by a second round of XR-naltrexone on the fifth week. It was found that:
- Participants in the naltrexone-assisted detox group were more likely to receive XR-naltrexone (56.1 percent) compared to the buprenorphine-assisted detox group (32.7 percent).
- For the second round of naltrexone treatment on the fifth week, the naltrexone-assisted detox group (50 percent) were again more likely to receive XR-naltrexone treatment compared to the buprenorphine-assisted detox group (26.9 percent).
- Another round of analysis found that opioid users were more likely to receive the first and second round of XR-naltrexone treatment compared to the patients with heroin dependence.
According to Dr. Maria Sullivan from the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, “Our findings support the conclusion that a seven-day opioid detoxification with gradually ascending doses of oral naltrexone is a well-tolerated outpatient procedure, with a success rate comparable to inpatient induction.”
Help is at hand
The fact that prescription drugs are available through a doctor’s prescription or over the counter, does not make it any safer than illicit drugs sold on the streets. Prescription drugs have the ability to alter the chemical markup of the brain that can trigger drug-seeking behavior. Drug dependence can cause adverse effects not just on the user, but also on the people close to him or her.
If you or your loved one is involved in prescription drug abuse, it is imperative to seek professional help. The Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline assists in accessing the best prescription drug abuse treatment clinic in the U.S. that specializes in delivering excellent intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557 or chat online with our medical representatives to know more about the prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S.