Naltrexone has been a foundational element of our treatments for Substance Use Disorders at the Coleman Network for over 20 years ago.
Naltrexone is a pure opioid antagonist. It acts as a blocker on the opioid receptors. When it occupies these receptors, it does not create physical dependence or euphoria or tolerance or addiction. Rather, it stops opioids from attaching to the receptors.
When our patients use naltrexone to help with Alcohol Use Disorder, their desire to drink and pleasure from drinking are reduced. For our patients dependent on opioids like heroin, morphine, or synthetic versions like oxycodone products (Percocet®), hydrocodone products (Vicodin®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), oxymorphone (Opana®), Tramadol®, as well as poppy seed tea and kratom addictions, naltrexone just blocks the receptor.
It is always challenging to stop using an addictive drug. As I have learned from my patients over the years I’ve been working in the field of addiction, my patients don’t use pills, injections, alcohol, or herbs because they are morally bereft or stupid. These substances have usefully helped reduce anxiety, pain, loneliness, boredom, depression, or insomnia. For many people, these substances have helped to numb uncomfortable memories.
Opioid and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
It takes courage on many levels to stop using these substances, and to stay off them. On a physical level, stopping opioid use abruptly causes well-known symptoms:
- Muscular pain
- Restlessness or sweating
- Diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea
- Dilated pupils or watery eyes
- Cramping abdominal pain
- Elevated heart rate
- Excessive yawning
People dependent on alcohol who stop drinking suddenly may experience:
- Restlessness or irritability
- Fever, or water-electrolyte imbalance
- Hallucination or delirium
- Fast heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Shallow breathing
Choosing to stop using addictive substances during the Covid pandemic adds another whole layer of challenge. How can I safely get the help I need? Is there a place near me to detox off alcohol or opioids so I can minimize travel?
Why Using Naltrexone is a Good Idea During the Pandemic?
Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to choose naltrexone as your Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT— particularly for an opioid use disorder— is that unlike methadone or buprenorphine (i.e. Subutex®, Suboxone®, Zubsolv®, etc.), naltrexone doesn’t create physical dependency. Both methadone and the buprenorphine-types of medications require multiple appointments and— because by law, urine drug screens are required — some of these will need to be in-person appointments.
The physicians in our national network use a long-acting form of naltrexone which lasts approximately two months. When making plans, this means people complete the actual detox in 5-8 days on an outpatient basis and can have follow up appointments with our staff virtually, until the next naltrexone implant is due in two months. (Suture removal is necessary 10-12 days after receiving an implant.)
The Coleman Network provides one of the safest and most efficient methods to take the first step in recovery, which is to stop taking the addictive substance. The Coleman Method is fully outpatient, allowing the patient and their support person to stay together during the entire treatment. We have reduced the number of patients going through detox simultaneously in order to achieve safe distancing and have instituted other measures to keep staff and patients safe.
If you or your loved one is looking for a safe, convenient option for detoxing during the COVID-19 pandemic that specializes in naltrexone therapy, we are here for you. Schedule a call back with one of our Care Advocates today.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP