Opiate Blockers

Opiate medication is commonly prescribed to patients to relieve moderate to severe pain. They are effective and fast-acting drugs that directly influence how the brain responds to pain. In a high dosage, opiate drugs — including codeine, oxycodone, morphine and methadone — can create a state of euphoria for users. However, the high is short-lived causing users to abuse opiates more frequently and at higher doses to induce the same effects.

Frequent abuse increases the risk of tolerance and opiate addiction. Though some users attempt to quit cold turkey, doctors strongly advise users to gradually taper off of the medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and to ease into recovery. One of the most effective forms of addiction treatment is medication-assisted treatment, called opioid antagonist, or opiate blocker therapy. Within this treatment, users are tapered off of abused opiates with counteracting drugs that help to prevent a high.

There are two main medication-assisted treatments used for treating opiate addiction: opioid agonist therapy and opioid antagonist therapy. Although both treatments directly affect brain receptors, each therapy treatment responds differently.

Opioid agonist treatment acts as a catalyst in the brain. Agonist drugs — morphine, heroin and oxycodone — are substances that attach themselves to pleasure and pain receptors in the brain and produce a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction is what produces the feeling of euphoria in opiate users. In large doses, agonist drugs can become addictive.

In opioid agonist therapy, doctors use drugs producing the same effects as common opiate drugs. The agonist drugs used in treatment are long-acting and help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings for up to 36 hours. Users in agonist therapy can quickly develop a tolerance to the medication, but without the high. They are also at risk of developing a physiological dependence.

Opioid antagonist treatment prevents chemical reaction from brain receptors. Antagonist drugs — naltrexone and naloxone — also referred to as opiate blockers, block addictive drugs from triggering brain receptors and prevent a high. Unlike users participating in agonist therapy, antagonist treatment patients are less likely to develop a tolerance to the medication. Antagonist drugs are effective but not addictive. Though antagonist drugs protect users from adverse side effects of opiate addiction, they do not prevent cravings.

Opiate blockers, or antagonist drugs, bind to opiate receptors in the brain that regulate pleasure and pain. Unlike agonist drugs, opiate blockers are stronger and do not stimulate brain receptors to produce a feeling of euphoria.

There are several different opiate blockers used for antagonist treatment, but the most common are naloxone and naltrexone. Naloxone is used most frequently in a medical emergency to reverse or prevent opiate overdose. If a user overdoses, they will be given a naloxone shot to counteract effects of the drug. Naloxone and other opiate blockers are not addictive.

Naltrexone is commonly used to treat opioid addiction, but should only be used while in recovery. This drug is not to be used during withdrawal because it can intensify symptoms. Taking naltrexone during recovery can help to block drug-induced highs and can decrease the urge to use. This drug also decreases opioid tolerance, so users relapse they are at risk of overdosing. In addition, because naltrexone is so effective, it will block pain relief effects when used in combination with other opiate drugs.

Opiate blockers come in a variety of forms. While some are effective in only one injection, others are consumed monthly. Some of the most common types of opiate blockers include:

  • Naltrexone – This prescription drug comes in the form of an opiate shot and an oral tablet. The liquid, Vivitrol, is injected into the muscle monthly. However, the opiate blocker pill is taken once a day.
  • Naloxone – This antagonist drug, commonly known as Narcan, can be injected or inhaled through the nose during medical emergency to reverse overdose effects. Once administered, opiate withdrawal symptoms will occur.
  • Buprenorphine – Though still considered an agonist drug, buprenorphine is a partial agonist producing weaker effects than its counterparts (heroin, methadone, etc.). Buprenorphine comes in the forms of buccal film (Bunavail), dissolvable tablets (Zubsolv), and a dissolvable film (Suboxone). All of these forms are mixed with naloxone to help prevent addiction and high qualities.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, the medical professionals at The Recovery Village are available to help you. Through support and individualized treatment options, you will be one step closer to living the healthier life you deserve. Don’t wait another day to seek help.
Opiate Blockers
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