Naloxone for Hydrocodone Addiction Treatment
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Hydrocodone’s prescription-based requirement has done little to stop or limit the widespread abuse of this drug. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, an estimated 12 million Americans reported using hydrocodone-based drugs for nonmedical purposes in 2010.
Ongoing hydrocodone use poses a serious risk of dependency and addiction. By the time a person realizes these consequences, the effects of the drug overwhelm any desire or will to stop using. Even in cases where addicts manage to abstain from the drug, hydrocodone’s aftereffects make it difficult to maintain a drug-free lifestyle.
Naloxone exists as one of a handful of medication therapies used to treat the long-term effects of opiate addiction. Naloxone’s effects on brain chemical processes work to support a person’s desire to stop using. Depending on a person’s specific treatment needs, naloxone can offer an effective detox, as well as long-term treatment solution.
Medication therapies used in opiate addiction treatment interact with the same brain cell receptor sites affected by hydrocodone. Any drug that stimulates these brain cells causes them to release endorphin neurotransmitter chemicals. The effects of a hydrocodone addiction leave cell sites damaged and unable to function normally on their own.
Hydrocodone and other addictive opiate drugs fully stimulate these cell receptor sites, while medications used in opiate addiction treatment vary in how they interact with these sites. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, medication treatments can act on cell sites in three different ways –
- As agonists, which fully stimulate receptor sites
- As partial agonists, which only stimulate cell sites up to a certain point
- As antagonists, which block cell receptor sites altogether
Naloxone acts as an antagonist agent that blocks cell receptor sites and prevents addictive opiate drugs from taking effect and is sometimes used in hydrocodone addiction treatment.
Naloxone’s antagonist effects offer an effective treatment in cases where a person overdoses on an addictive opiate like heroin or morphine. In effect, naloxone expels opiate materials from cell receptor sites, which brings on a rapid onset of withdrawal effects.
This mechanism of action can also be used to prevent recovering addicts from relapsing back into old drug using patterns. When used in this way, naloxone works as a secondary ingredient alongside another partial agonist medication.
Suboxone, a partial agonist that contains both naloxone and buprenorphine, works well as a maintenance treatment for people with a long-history of hydrocodone use. Naloxone’s effects come into play whenever a person attempts to abuse the Suboxone treatment medication.
Suboxone comes in table form, which is how it should be taken. According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, the practice of crushing up tablets and injecting them in solution form backfires when naloxone is present. In effect, this relapse attempt will result in an unpleasant withdrawal episode. When taken in table form, naloxone does not cause this reaction.
Detox vs. Maintenance Uses
As naloxone brings on near immediate withdrawal when hydrocodone materials are present, this drug is not commonly used for detox treatment purposes. However, naloxone’s ability to prevent relapse makes it an effective long-term treatment medication when used as a secondary agent.