According to two recent Australian studies, the use of naltrexone implants to treat drug dependency should be stopped because of reports of severe adverse reactions.

But even if the so-called “treatment” was safe, treating a drug addiction with a replacement drug doesn’t cure anything — recovery requires medical drug detox and rehab.

The drug naltrexone is used to block or reduce the “high” associated with opioids and alcohol. Usually supplied as a pill, it is said to help addicts control their cravings, but only as long as they continue using the drug properly. However, since drug addicts are notoriously unreliable, many fail to take their medication as or when prescribed. This has led to the development of long-lasting naltrexone abdominal implants, which slowly release the drug into the system over a period of months.

In Australia, two new studies show that there are problems with the naltrexone implants. First of all, they are not approved for human use, but nevertheless are being provided through private clinics. One study found that the research on naltrexone implants did not follow the usual scientific process of testing and safety. Another study found that two-thirds of naltrexone patients who were admitted to hospital after receiving the implants were suffering from such problems as severe opiate withdrawal and dehydration, infection at the implant site that required surgery to repair, and mental and emotional problems that should have ruled them out of a naltrexone program.

Of course, doing a medical drug detox and a thorough drug rehab program can lead to a permanent cure, whereas replacing one drug with another is just playing drug merry-go-round. Drug detox professionals, whose job it is to see addicts cleaned up and prepared for full recovery through a drug rehab program, are routinely called upon to treat addicts who have become addicted or injured through drug replacement therapies using methadone and buprenorphine. These two drugs, also used as “treatment” for opioid addiction and dependence, have become popular street drugs.

Buprenorphine is reported in some cities to be the fastest growing drug of abuse on the illicit criminal drug scene. Methadone already has decades of abuse which has led to thousands of deaths and countless numbers of addicts requiring drug detox and rehab. Yet it is still handed out in clinics across the country and around the world, masquerading as “treatment.”

It just can’t be stressed enough: Using drugs to treat drug dependencies is not treating the cause of an addiction, and therefore cannot be considered a “treatment” for addiction. At best, naltrexone, methadone and other replacements treat only some physical symptoms of addiction, and are nothing more than a dangerous stop-gap on a road leading nowhere. No known drug provides the real answer to addiction — a medical drug detox program that opens the door to full recovery.

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