Is it possible that one day a struggling opiate addict may get a surgical implant that helps them to avoid opiate abuse?
That is quickly becoming a reality today. A new Naltrexone implant has been developed along with an accompanying program to go with it. Globe Newswire says that “The first component of the program consists of an outpatient implant procedure.” This is where the opiate addict has an implant of Naltrexone put into them that lasts for around 6 months. That implant slowly distributes the drug to their system which helps to reduce opiate cravings.
Now you will note that the implant is only the first part of the program. The other part of their program consists of counseling and therapy. Why would this be the case?
The general public who is not very knowledgeable about addiction would think that this surgical implant, if done correctly, should be all the cure that is ever needed for opiate addiction. If you can implant a medication like this that then lasts for half a year, why would you need counseling or therapy to go along with it? Why doesn't this function as a complete cure?
The general population thinks that way, and here is the problem: Many struggling addicts and alcoholic think this way too. Only a tiny fraction of people who are generally already successfully recovering addicts and alcoholics know the truth, which is that a medical “cure,” even in the form of a futuristic surgical implant, is not really going to cure anything at all.
Why is this the case? Because the addiction is this thing that lives inside of us and it cannot be defined by just one substance, by one chemical, by one drug. If you take an alcoholic and you shoot them full of heroin for a few weeks straight, what do you think will happen? You now have a heroin addict. But the real truth is that the alcoholic did not “become a heroin addict.” Instead, the alcoholic had an addiction, and they happened to have started their addiction by being chemically dependent on alcohol, but their addiction doesn't really know or care about such details. The addiction lives on and if you are not treating it then it can manifest itself in various ways. This is why recovering alcoholics have to be wary of sex addiction, of compulsive eating, of compulsive gambling, and so on. Our addiction is not just limited to one drug of choice.
Why is this important in light of a Naltrexone implant? Because that particular medication really only helps with opiates and alcohol. It doesn't do anything when it comes to the hundreds of other forms of addiction out there, such as marijuana or cocaine or sex or overeating or gambling.
Now that probably seems like a harsh criticism, and I don't mean to be overly negative here. I actually applaud any and all medical technology that we can advance and then apply to the world of substance abuse treatment. My hope is that they continue to innovate and find more and more solutions such as the Naltrexone implant. I want to see more solutions and more medical advancement in the hopes of saving more lives.
What I am cautioning you about today, however, is the idea that you can hear about a solution like this one–the surgical implant that curbs drug or painkiller cravings–and believe that it is something like a real “cure.”
It is not a cure. It is not even close to being a cure. If you worked in a treatment center and you watched people get set up on Naltrexone medication for after they leave treatment you would realize that this is nothing like a cure. It is, at best, one tiny step towards something like a cure.
I would argue that even if the implant completely negated all euphoric and mind altering effects from nearly all chemical substances, it still would not “cure” addiction in the way that we hope for it to. The reason that this would not be a real cure is because the addiction lives on, the addiction is still within the person, and it will find new and unanticipated ways to manifest itself.
It is a little bit like Whack-a-mole. If you squash the addict's ability to use opiates and alcohol, they will just jump to another substance. This is because you have not really treated the addiction itself, you have only limited its potential in one very narrow arena–that being drug of choice. There are lots of drugs. Hundreds of them.
What then, is the solution? The article hints at it with the second part of the program, with the therapy and the counseling that is supposed to accompany the implant treatment.
If the addict goes to meetings and they go to therapy and they pour their heart and soul into personal growth and making positive changes, then yes, they too can recover from addiction. But doing all of that stuff is really the baseline for recovery, and the surgical implant is just the icing on the cake.
And therein lies the trap: Every single addict and alcoholic who comes through detox hears about this medicine that can help with their cravings, and they think “Aha! That is my main problem, when I have cravings for my drug of choice. If I did not have the craving then I would be just fine, and I could live a normal life.”
And the treatment professionals try to tell this addict that yes, they can give them this medication for cravings, or they can have this procedure and get a Naltrexone implant, but they will still have to supplement this with therapy and AA meetings and lots of additional effort.
And the struggling addict hears that and they say “Yeah, yeah yeah....I hear you. But tell me more about this Naltrexone stuff and how it will help reduce my cravings.”
In other words, we all talk a good game when they tell us that Naltrexone works best when paired with therapy and social support such as AA or NA. We all nod our heads and agree that this sounds like a really great plan you have there, I sure do hear you, yup, uh huh.
But in the back of our mind, while we are nodding and agreeing with the treatment professional, we are secretly calculating how we are a bit smarter than the average addict, and how we will do just fine as long as they give us this Naltrexone solution, or whatever medication they are peddling for anti-craving lately, and we should be able to get back to life as normal.
But there is no normal. Not any more. Our addiction changed us forever. And any solution moving forward has to focus on personal growth and self improvement, regardless of what “medical cure” we have up our sleeve.
Addiction is still addiction, and recovery is still.....personal growth. No way around the simple truth.
The post Can a Surgical Implant Cure Opiate Addiction? appeared first on Spiritual River Addiction Help.