Addiction is not an easy, one-time fix. There is no magic pill that will automatically cure all medical, behavioral, and physiological effects of the disease. But ever since the American Medical Association first declared alcoholism a disease in 1956, addiction awareness has grown significantly. Because of this, treatment options continue to develop for both alcohol and drug dependency. Enter the naltrexone implant.
What is the Naltrexone Implant?
Naltrexone is a prescription medication that treats opiate and alcohol addictions. It works as an opioid antagonist by blocking the opioid receptors in the control center of the brain. This stops dopamine from releasing into the bloodstream. So, if an addict on naltrexone uses opiates, the feeling of euphoria that usually accompanies the drug is blocked.
Until recently, naltrexone was exclusively an oral medication. But the FDA has recently approved an implant version of the medication. The naltrexone implant is a small pellet. A physician inserts it under the skin through a small incision usually in the lower abdomen. From there, the implant slowly releases the medication over an extended period of time. It lasts about six months, as permitted by the individual’s metabolism and other physical characteristics. The implant must be inserted by a doctor in a clinical setting.
2 Major Benefits of the Implant:
- Low maintenance – The implant’s major advantage over oral medication is that it doesn’t have to be taken daily. Once inserted, the implant will continuously release the naltrexone into the bloodstream in low doses until completely dissolved, which is usually about six months.
- Inconspicuous – The implant is small and placed in the lower abdomen, an area not normally seen by many people. So, individuals have control over who does and doesn’t know about their treatment.
Does it Really Work?
Naltrexone implants are significantly more effective in treating addiction than oral medications. Oral medication can only be successful if used properly. That means addicts must take them on schedule as prescribed. Many people’s schedules can get in the way of proper administration. The implant doesn’t have that risk because it will continuously release the medication without any extra responsibility or interference from the individual.
The implant helps to fight cravings because it occupies receptors and blocks the release of dopamine, essentially hijacking the reward center of the brain. Because the drug is no longer paired with euphoria, the addict is less compelled to use and abuse it. This allows addicts to focus their energy into other areas of their recovery, such as emotional healing and rebuilding relationships. In turn, the whole recovery is more successful.
The implant is most effective when paired with additional forms of treatment, such as group and individual therapy.
In most cases, the naltrexone implant is completely safe. However, as with any incision, there is a small risk of complication with the implantation site. Complications can include inflammation, irritation, and infection. Furthermore, addicts need a full detox before using the implant. If detox is not completed first, an addict may experience withdrawal symptoms, which will increase the chance of relapse.
Whether you choose to use the implant or not, the first step toward recovery is seeking help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call us at 855-737-7363 for a free and confidential assessment.