Thursday, December 15, 2011

Opiate Recovery (without Naltrexone Implants) is extremely difficult

Since doctors first started treating addiction, it has been clear that long term recovery rates for patients with opiate addiction are very low.  In 1989, I worked in a very good outpatient treatment program here in Richmond Va.  After a few years, we studied our success rates.  Our alcoholic patients did quite well - about 60% were still sober after six months.  But when we looked at our heroin addicts, it was a completely different story - not even one patient who had been hooked on opiates was still off drugs after six months.  Most of the patients didn’t even complete the 8 week program.  They dropped out of treatment because they had relapsed back onto their opiates – (This was before I started using Naltrexone implants).  I realized at that time, that without help, most patients are just not able to overcome the intense cravings to use again.

A recent study from a VA Hospital in Washington State affirmed my experience.  Their study showed terrible success rates, even with very good treatment.  They studied 112 patients who wanted to get clean, and were admitted to a hospital for detox.  22 % didn’t even complete the detoxification process!  What is worse, and very significant, is that after only 3 months there were only 3% who were still free of opiates!

Three percent success rates with regular treatment is awful.  And this was a good program - their detox methods were standard, they offered intensive therapy, either inpatient or outpatient, and they offered other long term support for all their patients.  And, even with all of this, they had only 3% of their patients who were drug free after three months.

There is a lot to learn from this study.  First, the withdrawal symptoms from opiates are so strong that many patients do not complete the acute phase of detox.  Second, most of the patients that do get through the acute detox period suffer from post acute withdrawal symptoms and quickly relapse, within the first three months. When you think about results like this, it is not surprising that many physicians and many treatment facilities give up on having their patients get completely off drugs. Instead, they recommend long-term opiates like Methadone or Suboxone. Fortunately, we have found a better way to help patients stay completely drug free! We use a non-addictive medicine that decreases cravings and helps patients avoid relapse – Naltrexone Implants.

I have to say I am very proud of the programs we have developed here at The Coleman Institute to help patients get through the critical time period of early recovery.  Our Accelerated Detox Program is comfortable for the patient and it has over a 99% success rate at completing the detox.  It is very rare that patients who start our program drop out and do not complete the detoxification.  

At the end of the detoxification process, we insert a small Naltrexone Implant.  It is an easy procedure that usually takes only 5 minutes.  The Naltrexone implants we use provide excellent protection during those first critical months when the brain is crying out so strongly for opiates.  

A number of research studies have shown that patients using Naltrexone Implants achieve a 60% success rate, even after 12 months.  We have similarly good success in our offices. 

It feels good to be providing programs that help patients get completely off drugs and start to reclaim their lives. 

The staff and I The Coleman Institute wish all of you a great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!!!

 ~ Dr. Peter R. Coleman

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