This Is Why an Implant Cannot Stop Heroin Addiction

This is Why An Implant Cannot Stop Heroin Addiction, Lynn R Webster, MD, Heroin Addiction

A recent The Daily Beast article asks the question: Can an implant stop heroin addiction?

Heroin Addiction Implant

The short answer is that, no, an implant cannot stop heroin addiction. The buprenorphine implant the article cites is only used once someone has already developed an opioid addiction.

Therefore, the implant isn’t preventing heroin addiction, it’s only treating it.

Other Implant Uses

However, the buprenorphine implant may make treating opioid addiction more successful. It may make it easier for those who could benefit from buprenorphine treatment to receive it, and it might improve compliance and utilization. This would be a good thing.

Addiction: Compliance Issues

Compliance is a major problem in all areas of medicine, but it is generally worse with pharmacologic treatment of addiction. There are several reasons for the lack of compliance:

  • First, people with an opioid addiction have an incredibly strong desire to use opioids. Addiction — theirs and everybody else’s — is all about memories. Once the vulnerable brain has experienced the rewarding properties of an opioid, memories of receiving that reward create a desire for the drug that can be insatiable.

It takes a huge commitment for people who are addicted to opioids to use an alternative medication, and all the stars must be aligned.

  • Secondly, most people with opioid addiction have underlying mental health disorder(s) that buprenorphine doesn’t address. Unless the underlying mental health disorder(s) are also treated, there is tremendous risk of relapse.
  • Thirdly, with opioids, addiction generally exists in social environments that are conducive to drug use. The cues and reminders are omnipresent, and they trigger use.

Lack of compliance is the major reason why there’s such a lack of success with opioid addiction treatment.

There are other reasons as well, but they’re less important factors.

Only time will tell if the new approach to treating heroin addiction, using the buprenorphine implant, will be superior to the traditional approaches. I’d be in favor of any treatment that might be more effective for patients, and it sounds to me as if this one might be worth exploring.

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Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD





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