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Take-home naloxone program can help prevent heroin overdose deaths: Study

Take-home naloxone program can help prevent heroin overdose deaths: Study

More than 8,200 heroin-related overdose deaths were reported in 2013 in the United States, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The report also said that heroin overdose deaths increased 286 percent from 2002 to 2013.

A number of effective treatments are available for heroin and opioid addiction, including inpatient and outpatient programs, counseling (psychotherapy), self-help groups, pairing and medication. However, compared to usual treatment modalities, drug naloxone, which is administered monthly, is more effective in preventing drug relapse in heroin and other opioid addicts, says a recent study.

The study, published in the journal Addiction in March 2016, revealed that take-home naloxone (THN) programs can be an effective antidote that can reverse opioid intoxication and reduce overdose mortality. The researchers analyzed data from 22 observational studies of THN programs in the U.S., Canada, Germany and the U.K., with the number of participants in each study averaging 203, ranging from 24 to 2,912.

The results showed that THN programs can greatly increase the survival rates among heroin overdose patients and also bring down the mortality rates, along with a low rate of adverse events. The study found that naloxone successfully reversed heroin overdose in 96 to 99 percent cases and observed no empirical evidence to prove that THN programs encourage heroin use.

Professor John Strang, head of the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London and an author of the study, said, “This study is the first to assess the international evidence-base on take-home naloxone, and we found that the antidote successfully reversed overdose in the large majority of cases where the drug was administered.”

Medical detox program

Any kind of substance abuse tends to interfere with an individual’s ability to make decisions, leading to frequent cravings. This is when a person needs professional help. With withdrawal acting as a major roadblock in the path to treatment, the detoxification therapy may be preferable and in some cases necessary for patients who have been using an addictive substance heavily for a long period. The detox therapy treats the immediate effects of stopping drug use and removes toxins accumulated in the body.

Detox helps improve chance of successful recovery and prevent relapses. In an ideal procedure, medications like buprenorphine and naloxone, along with proper counseling, can help patients stay steady on the recovery path. The process helps patients give up drugs without undergoing the pain of withdrawal. The detox process is carried out only under medical supervision, be it at an inpatient rehab facility or an outpatient center. A therapist needs to understand an addict’s complete history of drug abuse before starting any treatment, as relapse is very common even after achieving long-term abstinence.

Treatment and rehabilitation

A heroin overdose can slow an addict’s breathing to dangerous levels or stop it altogether, causing hypoxic brain injury due to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Naloxone has become a treatment of choice and useful for highly motivated recently detoxified patients who want total abstinence as well as for individuals who are in early stages of their addiction. Approved in 2010 by the FDA to treat opioid dependence, the drug has been widely used to treat prisoners, despite limited data on effectiveness.

If you or your loved one is battling addiction, now is the time to act and lead a happy drug-free life. Contact the Colorado Detox Helpline today to learn more about the best treatment options in your area and lead a healthy life. You can reach our expert via online chat or at 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807.

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