Most people don’t realise they have a choice when it comes to the type of medicinal aid they receive during the rehabilitation process. Depending on the substance and other factors of treatment, rehabilitation centers can offer a variety of medications to assist patients going through withdrawal. This is essential to success as it helps patients focus on the underlying issues associated with their addiction. Rehab centers like Harbor Village work to teach patients to identify emotional and physical triggers and give them the tools to choose healthier responses to such triggers. The two primary categories used in the substance abuse subsect of pharmacotherapy are opioid treatments and opioid antagonist treatments.
The Difference Between Opioid Treatments and Opiate Antagonist Medications
As the category’s name suggests, opioid medications- such as the widely used Suboxone- contain opioids or partial opioid components. Because of this pro-abstinence supporters claim recovery using such medications is not “true recovery”. They claim the opioids present in the treatments are simply replacing one dependency for another. Contrary to this belief, opioid medications are used to satisfy the body’s craving of opiates without causing any symptoms of use. Suboxone and other opioid treatments are intended for use in the detoxification phase of rehabilitation for weaning the body of its’ opiate dependency. While addiction to opioid treatments is possible it is uncommon as the medication produces no ‘high.’ Often opioid treatments also contain a component that causes negative side effects such as nausea and severe stomach pain if a narcotic is consumed. Addiction typically only forms when the drug is misused and the patient’s dosage begins to increase rather than decrease; however some such treatments have an indefinite time-frame for use and may be required for the remainder of the patient’s life. The second option is opiate antagonist medication such as Naltrexone. Opiate antagonists are prescribed post- detoxification and work by blocking the opiate receptors in the nervous system to prevent the patient from experiencing the effects of opiate use, thus discouraging relapse. Potential patients must refrain from opiate use for seven to ten days before the first dose is administered and treatment last for three months to purge the body of lasting cravings. Opiate antagonists are non-addictive and most users experience no adverse symptoms, though blood tests throughout the treatment are necessary to monitor any potential liver and kidney damage. Because it is non-habit forming, Naltrexone does not require medical supervision, allowing the patient to self-medicate from the privacy of their homes and continue their normal daily routines.
What are the Symptoms of Naltrexone Use?
While most people prescribed to Naltrexone do not experience any changes in their mental or physical states, some patients have reported experiencing side effects. The symptoms reported were non-life threatening and typically receded with the first few weeks of treatment. Some Naltrexone users experienced irritability, anxiety, and nervousness which was sometimes accompanied with physical symptoms like:
loss of appetite
restlessness or fatigue
muscle and/or joint pain
Blood tests are required prior to the initial dose to test for existing liver or kidney damage. If such damage is determined to exist Naltrexone may not be approved for use as it can worsen the damage. In rare cases Naltrexone has caused damage to the liver and kidneys in patients without pre-existing conditions.
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