Do Naltrexone Implants Work?

Step by Step Recovery offer a holistic based pathway to healing from addiction.  We have investigated possible options to help addicts including Naltrexone implants.  But do they work?

If you or a loved one are addicted to opiates and want to stop, you may well be considering what the best options are. You want all the help you can get maintain abstinence and recovery.

Opiate addiction is a very prominent concern in today’s society. More people are dying from opiate related deaths than ever before – notably from heroin addiction. Naltrexone implants have been suggested as one approach for some people.

We receive many calls from worried families and addicts looking for a guaranteed method of permanently stopping opioids. Many are looking for a cheap and easy fix to a very complex and multifaceted illness.

The Changing Face of Opiate Addiction

Today’s opiate addicts don’t fit a stereotype. Some abuse heroin yet still manage to stay employed. Others take countless over-the-counter opiate based pills or medicines yet are still able to run a home. Yet others are dependent on prescribed opiates however are still able to function in every respect.

With so many choices and variations of opioids available in today’s society, staying clean when you suffer from addiction has never been so challenging. As a result, those that suffer from opioid addiction often look for a solution that they feel guarantees recovery. That solution regularly comes in the form of naltrexone implants.

How Naltrexone Implants Work

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist drug that has no psychoactive effects or properties. It works by binding to and controlling the neurotransmitter receptors that are targeted by opioid drugs in the brain. Basically, Naltrexone works by stopping the euphoric feelings that are associated with opiate use.

Naltrexone does not reducing opiate cravings, there is however arguably a placebo effect as the individual taking naltrexone will know that they cannot get high from using opiates.

Naltrexone should only be used once all traces of opiates are flushed from the individuals system (approximately 7 to 10 days after last use). If naltrexone is used in the presence of opiates, the individual will experience acute opioid withdrawal as a result.

How Naltrexone is Used

The naltrexone implant is inserted under the skin through a very simple operative procedure. The implant then slowly releases the naltrexone medication – effectively blocking the effects of opiates for 2 to 6 months. Naltrexone can also be administered by an intramuscular slow release depot injection which lasts for approximately one month.

It should be considered that whilst naltrexone is an effective deterrent to purchasing heroin or abusing other opiates, this medication can only possibly work whilst an individual remains willing to stay clean from substances. If the individual wishes to use, they can remove the implant or cease the depot injections.

Granted, any opiates used before the naltrexone has left their system will be wasted but without a change in thinking an individual suffering from addiction can drive themselves mad with the constant obsessing and need to get high.

Stopping Heroin or Opiates is Simply Not Enough

Naltrexone should only be used as an aid to opiate recovery and not as a substitute for a comprehensive recovery programme. The reason for this is simple:

Addiction is characterized by compulsive and repetitive behaviours, driven by a mindset evolved through chemical alteration from repeated abuse or exposure to a drug or chemical inducing activity.  

This means that the substance, or in this case the opiates, are not the problem. Recovery from any addiction requires more than just abstinence. Without addressing the deep rooted issues and core beliefs that drive the compulsion to use, an individual suffering from addiction is highly likely to relapse.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that they will find any peace of mind or acceptance and love of themselves without undergoing evidence based treatments and therapeutic addiction work first.

The Danger of Naltrexone Implants

The main danger of using naltrexone, is that an individual decides to remove an implant and use heroin or another strong opiate before the medication has completely left their system.

Compelled to get high, they may try to compensate for any remaining opiate antagonist in their body by using a larger than normal amount of opiates. Needless to say this is incredibly risky and could cost them their life.

Opiate Addiction Recovery

The safest way to stop heroin or opiates is to undergo a medically managed opiate detox, followed immediately by an intensive, bespoke drug rehab programme. An addiction recovery programme should incorporate all aspects of the individual as a person. That means treating them physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

No two addicts are the same and at Step by Step Recovery we truly appreciate this.

For more information on our bespoke opiate detox and opiate treatment programme, please call us directly or complete our online assessment form.

Sources and references:

Professionals therapist

A page revised the 6 of July of 2021, by Matthew Reece, a certified PG cons diploma, a clinical Lead/ Senior counsellor at Step by Step Recovery.