Naltrexone Assisted Recovery
Kay Quinn, reporting for Channel 5 News in the American Mid-West, introduces us to a woman who has abused alcohol for nearly thirty years, but who has now got her habit under control with the help of a drug called Naltrexone.
Medication in Recovery
This woman, who wishes to be known as Tracie, had abused alcohol since she was 15 years old. Three years ago, she was consuming between 14 and 22 drinks a day, but has now been able to get her craving under control by using the prescription drug Naltrexone. The drug costs about $3.50 a tablet, is approved by the FDA, and is covered by most health insurance schemes. Tracy’s mother put her in touch with Assisted Recovery Centers of America, which routinely uses the drug as part of their recovery program.
Paul Menzies, owner of Assisted Recovery Centers of America, in an interview with Kay Quinn, wondered why more was not known about this drug, and why it was not prescribed more often. He described it as a life saver.
In another interview, John Wright, a recovered alcoholic describes how he had failed the 12-Step program but had been able to quit by using Naltrexone.
Drugs Used to Help Cure Addiction
Of course, society often disapproves of the use of drugs to cure addiction, suspecting that the underlying causes are not being properly addressed. Dr. Charles Conway, a psychiatrist at Saint Louis University Hospital, also adds a note of caution. The drugs have to be taken every day, and getting patients to take the daily dose can be a problem. They are not a silver bullet or miracle cure, and should be taken only as part of a comprehensive program of treatment and rehabilitation.
Naltrexone works by blocking the endorphins that are released by alcohol. Abusers experience all the effects of alcohol except for the euphoria. Alcohol therefore loses its appeal. Naltrexone is even more effective when used by people addicted to opiates like heroin, morphine, codeine and methadone.
Naltrexone to Treat Alcohol Dependence
In this second video, there is a report by Gabriella Rogers for Channel 9 News Australia. In this report, she looks at the use of Naltrexone to treat alcohol dependence. The tablets were originally used to treat heroin addiction, but they have been found to benefit alcohol abusers too.
She interviews Dr. Raymond Seidler, a general practitioner working in an inner city area of Sydney, Australia. He thinks it would be very useful in the treatment of alcohol dependence, a growing problem in his area of the city. Dr. Seidler noted that in the USA, it is often given as a monthly injection, rather than the six tablets a day normally offered to patients in Australia.
Naltrexone is helpful in the treatment of alcohol addiction as it blocks opioid receptors in people with alcoholism, which can lead to a reduction in alcohol intake. In short, naltrexone reduces the pleasure or reward of drinking and may also reduce cravings associated with environmental stimuli.
While most cases require a combination of therapies to effectively treat addiction (counseling, education, specialty therapy, disulfiram, etc.), naltrexone proves to be an effective treatment. People who struggle with moderate-to-severe alcohol dependence and who have failed in attempts to moderate drinking in the past stand to benefit greatly from the use of naltrexone. It is especially effective for people who have a high motivation to abstain from alcohol.
Treatment with naltrexone when taken daily by mouth usually lasts for three to four months with a starting dose of 25 mg. That dosage may increase to 50mg daily over a 1 week period. Side effects tend to be minor and may include fatigue, headache, vomiting, or nausea, though these tend to resolve after initial therapy. Naltrexone blocks brain opiate receptors, making it not ideal for patients who are dependent on opiates or who take opiates for relief of chronic pain.
Recovery Benefits of Naltrexone
She also interviews Michael, an alcohol addict whose daily intake used to be half a bottle of Scotch and four liters of wine. Michael describes how alcohol addiction destroyed his marriage of nearly thirty years before he was able to give up alcohol with the help of Naltrexone.
Then, in an interview with Professor Paul Haber, a consultant at the Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, we get an insight into how the new drug actually works. It prevents drug and alcohol abusers from getting the same enhanced mood elevation they would normally experience when drinking. He informs us that trials of the drug in the USA have produced good results with minimal side effect.
Finally, Michael makes a plea for more widespread use of Naltrexone, the drug that has helped him transform his life.