An opioid addiction is one of the more difficult addictions to overcome. The cravings that individuals feel can be impossible to ignore, and withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant. Detoxing from opiates is not life-threatening, but because it is difficult it takes someone committed to recovering to undergo it. There are ways to recover from opioid addiction, and the most effective way involves treatment with pharmaceuticals and therapy.
We are always looking for ways to make the recovery process easier. The development of new medications, such as methadone, to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, have made recovery easier. Buprenorphine, first used in 2002, has been one of the most common drugs to treat opioid addiction, because it is tolerated by most patients and is available in a pill form for patients to take at home.
Now a new form of buprenorphine has been developed, and its makers released the results of a study today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Titan Pharmaceuticals, led by Dr. Walter Ling, came up with a buprenorphine implant. The implant is placed just beneath the skin on the patient’s arm, and it slowly releases the medication over the span of 6 months. The study showed the implants were successful; they helped patients make it through the full 6 months of treatment in 37% of cases, compared to only 22% making it through with placebo implants. The makers are excited about the buprenorphine implants because they keep patients in treatment. Instead of opioid addicts losing interest and stopping taking the oral pills, the implants ensure that the patient gets his or her correct dosage. Implants can’t be sold for drug money either, as sometimes happens to buprenorphine pills.
But there are some problems with the implant. Some patients had irritation or other complications with the implant site. With a larger group of people being studied, we could probably expect even more complications, as is common with surgical implants like this. One of the biggest concerns about the implants is the lack of effectiveness that occurred in some of the patients. Many were given supplemental sublingual buprenorphine when their cravings or withdrawal symptoms got bad. Iif we are going to go through the trouble of using implants, they need to work effectively.
In this study, patients also received drug counseling throughout the 6 month period. If these implants are ever used with the public, just as with any addiction treatment, counseling needs to be a big part of it. Patients wishing to be clean need to be committed to a sober lifestyle, which can be developed through hard work and therapy. There is no magic pill or implant that can just take addiction away; sobriety has to be worked for.
This article was written by Bethany Winkel
Joining the TSN online family in 2008, Bethany has used her skills as a writer to reach many people through her blog. Always eager to be a help to others, she is pleased to see her writing become a source of information, encouragement, and hope for those impacted by substance abuse. Bethany is happy to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of others. Bethany has also held the position of development coordinator for a nonprofit youth center for the past 6 years. With her expertise in grant writing, Bethany has raised over $1 million for programming that benefits at-risk youth. The happy mother of 4 young children, Bethany juggles her writing from home with spending time with her family. If her hours of research for her TSN blog articles have taught her one thing, it is to be an involved parent who takes time to listen to her kids.