A common criticism within the drug rehab community that echoes amongst prospective patients and their families is the subject of opioid addiction and recommended protocols in how best to remove dependency of the drug. The withdrawal process from heroin and prescription pain pills can be arduous and a leading reason why many people seeking sobriety fall short within the detoxification period. The pain of withdrawal symptoms often drives patients back to the drug they wanted to break free from. This is where a treatment program that includes medication is helpful to work through detox and into the various stages of recovery. However, on the face of it, transferring from one opioid to another as a method to remove addiction seems, well, hypocritical. But with the new FDA approval given to the first nonopioid to treat opioid withdrawals, sobriety for many will be less complicated.
Lofexidine Lessens Severity of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
With the release of the drug Lofexidine (brand name is Lucemyra) addiction treatment providers have a less invasive option to offer clients to ease withdrawal symptoms as the body and the brain remove the toxins from extended opioid use. The FDA is clear, at this point, that Lofexidine is not meant as a panacea for treating substance use disorder. There is a distinction.
Dr. Danesh Alam, medical director of the behavioral health division at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois was one of the primary researchers for the drug trials. The reason behind why this particular medication was fast-tracked through the FDA approval process is that the U.S. desperately needs a nonaddictive solution in treating opioid addiction and Lucemyra seems to answer that call.
Short Terms Benefits with the Promise of Long-term Use
When opioid use is suddenly stopped, withdrawal symptoms start. The severity of the symptoms will vary from person to person based on the type of opioid used, amount, the duration of the addiction and the patient’s current state of health. Lofexidine will be prescribed for short-term administration, up to 14 days, with medical practitioners monitoring patients, how they respond to the medication and when adjustments in dosage is needed.
Lofexidine will ease but may not completely eliminate the following:
- Muscle pain
The medical community and federal health agencies concur and are hopeful that eventually, this nonopioid solution will be also approved for use in long-term treatment methods in the management of opioid addiction recovery. More testing through human and animal clinical trials are to come.
The Cycle of Opioid Addiction Is Curtailed Yet Lengthened by MAT
For people struggling with opioid addiction, finding relief from the disease can be just as painful as living with the condition itself. There is no way to avoid the withdrawal process but there are medications available to make it more comfortable.
Medication-assisted treatment, known as MAT, allows an opiate user to more gently wane of their chemical dependency through strategic administering of other drugs that not only reduce withdrawal symptoms but block the brain receptors that instigate cravings for the drug.
Some of the more common medication-assisted treatment substances used are methadone and buprenorphine to help users stay on their course of sobriety, minimizing the risk for relapse. Unfortunately, many people become reliant on these drugs, further embedding the culture of drug dependency. This is why the FDA approval of Lofexidine is so important. As the first nonopioid available to treat opioid withdrawals, it could lead the way in how we treat opioid addiction.
Overview of Medication-Assisted Treatment Benefits
Many patients, when undergoing treatment for substance addiction, want to reintegrate back into society as soon as possible to continue living a “normal” life. By adding medication-assisted treatment to their daily lives, it allows for a more seamless recovery process. Cravings are lessened and life triggers that will test their resiliency and commitment to sobriety will be more manageable with medication and ongoing holistic and behavioral health therapies. As time goes on with medical and mental heal assessments taking place, MAT programs can be tiered down as successful long-term recovery is evident.
Opioid Withdrawal Effects
Without the guidance of a licensed and accredited addiction treatment expert, detoxing from opioid addiction will be difficult and comes with health risks. As the body and brain crave the drug and the user denies the physiological request, there are multiple reactions.
Within the first 24 hours without opioid use, the following can occur:
- Excessive sweating
- Sleeplessness or insomnia
- Aching muscles
- Excessive tears in the eyes
- Runny nose
- Excessive yawning
After 24 hours without opioid use, the following can occur:
- Painful abdominal cramping
- Vomiting and nausea
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Vision is compromised
These symptoms can last for weeks. Lofexidine medication-assisted treatment for the short-term can be a lifesaver and help patients get through the drug withdrawal process, now better able to focus on the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of addiction recovery.
Coming Clean Without Risks Requires Medical Supervision
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