Anti-addiction drugs prevent dependence on painkillers/heroin
According to a recent finding, anti-addiction drugs may help in preventing painkillers/ heroin dependency. This can prove beneficial in a country like U.S. where majority of the population is addicted to heroin/painkillers. An anti-addiction drug, naltrexone lowers the rate of relapse by blocking the exhilarated sensation of opioid painkillers/heroin and is injected on monthly basis.
The investigators of the study found no overdose in the naltrexone (treatment) group even after 6 months while the other (control) group experienced five.
In 2014, the number of deaths observed due to opioid painkillers were above 28,000. The study author, Dr. Joshua Lee feels that this approach was really good in terms of preventing relapse but he was really shocked to see the clear effectiveness of this drug. He termed this study to be very important as no such study has been conducted in U.S. till now and these findings could easily convince physicians to prescribe naltrexone. FDA has recently approved the extended release form of naltrexone for the treatment of opioid dependency. Methadone and buprenorphine have also been approved.
Doctors administered monthly injections of naltrexone to 153 opioid-addicted adults at 5 U.S. sites. Other 155 addicted adults were given regular treatment that included counseling sessions & communal treatment plans. After 6 months of treatment, there was relapse in about 43% of adults in naltrexone group as compared to 64% adults receiving regular treatment. Both the groups were back on the use of opioids at similar rates, after 1 year of follow up. Control group experienced two additional overdoses, while naltrexone experienced none. The results indicate that naltrexone must be used for more than 6 months.
Dr. Terry Horton, Chief, Addiction medicine, Christiana Care Health System, believes that addiction is a chronic brain disorder and drugs definitely brings changes in brain. These changes in brain take more time to heal and long term effort is required. He is really hopeful that this new tool will help people in criminal justice system to address their opiate addiction while moving back into the society. He also called opiate addiction, a very deadly disease which is affecting everyone and destroying all socioeconomic, racial, and gender boundaries.
Opiate addiction has become the major concern for both FDA and CDC. In order to warn patients regarding the misuse, FDA has come with new warning labels. On the other side, CDC is also gathering new guidelines for the doctors to apply while prescribing pain medications.
Lee feels that in current scenario, there is no dispute that going on medications is a better approach but if someone is not using medications, then certainly he is not really practicing effective evidence-based medicine.