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Using naltrexone to treat alcohol dependence

Using naltrexone to treat alcohol dependence

Alcohol is the most commonly abused addictive drug in the United States. According to a 2015 report published in the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), 17.6 million or one in every 12 American adults suffer from some form of alcohol abuse or dependence. Whether it is moderate drinking or risky binge drinking, the scourge of alcohol has affected many lives, irrespective of gender, race, age and social standing.

Quitting alcohol is not easy, especially for someone who is hooked onto it for a long time. But, a person who has a serious drinking problem and experiences any of the symptoms of alcohol dependence should consult a doctor about it as soon as possible. However, stopping alcohol use suddenly or going “cold turkey” can lead to serious withdrawal. A medically aided withdrawal, consisting of controlled detoxification rituals in conjunction with therapy and counseling for correcting maladaptive thought patterns, is generally recommended.

Apparently, two drugs naltrexone and acamprosate, which are generally used during the detox process, have shown to be effective not only in promoting abstinence but also in preventing the urge to drink heavily. Naltrexone hydrochloride is a pure opioid antagonist that either lessens the impact of opioids or completely blocks it by inhibiting receptors in the brain responsible for enabling a high. It is also used to help recovering alcohol abusers stay alcohol free. Acamprosate, on the other hand, is a drug that stabilizes certain chemical imbalances in the brain after a person quits alcohol.

Naltrexone fairly effective in curbing urge to drink

A 2012 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that naltrexone is effective in suppressing pathways that cause one to feel high after alcohol consumption. During the meta-analysis of 64 trials, the researchers found that naltrexone had no health risks. Meanwhile, the other drug acamprosate was found to be fairly effective in promoting sobriety.

“In treatment for alcohol use disorders, acamprosate has been found to be slightly more efficacious in promoting abstinence and naltrexone slightly more efficacious in reducing heavy drinking and craving,” said the researchers. However, both the drugs are seen to work best when psychological counseling is used adjunct to the treatment process.

Road to recovery

Alcohol addiction is one of the most treatable forms of addictions. Key to curbing alcohol addiction is detoxification and medications, along with counseling and psychological support. While medications such as naltrexone are said to be effective and safe, it is advisable to take these medications with the doctor’s prescription. Any attempt to self-medicate can have unforeseen results.

Such innovative approaches can help both medical practitioners and patients in overcoming the challenges of substance abuse. Besides the consistent experimentation and studies to figure out advanced treatments, the need of the hour is to encourage patients to undergo an effective treatment. By undergoing detoxification, which is the first step to recovery, one can learn the ways to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Recovery from addiction and resumption of a normal life is a long-term goal. Relapsing to substance use suggests that treatment needs to be resumed or adjusted, or an alternative line of treatment needs to be explored. The continuation of the healthy diet assists in healing the body and preventing a relapse.

If you or your loved one is suffering from drug abuse, contact the Colorado Detox Helpline to get adequate information on treatment. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 to access details about various detox centers in Colorado. You can call for assistance or chat online with our experts for further information.

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