The FDA recently approved a new drug to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Lucemyra, or lofexidine hydrochloride, is the first drug to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms that’s not derived from opioids. Most importantly, Lucemyra is believed to be non-addictive. There are currently three ways to minimize opioid withdrawal for people trying to quit. One is to do a slow taper, gradually taking a smaller dose until you can quit with minimal symptoms. That is typically used for people who have built a tolerance for opioids prescribed for pain. People with heroin addictions are typically given either methadone or buprenorphine, both of which are similar to opioids. These work pretty well but they are also very addictive. People sometimes taper off of them, but many people use them indefinitely. Lucemyra is different. It is thought to work by blunting the response of the sympathetic nervous system by lowering the body’s production of norepinephrine. Researchers believe the sympathetic nervous system plays a big part in the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Symptoms typically include nausea, anxiety, severe aches, insomnia, and increased heart rate. In clinical trials involving more than 800 people, Lucemyra reduced the severity of those symptoms. Lucemyra is only meant to reduce the severity of withdrawal, and is not approved for use longer than 14 days. As a new drug, it is not yet clear exactly how it would be used in treatment. It would mostly be for people who want to detox from heroin or other opioids without continuing on maintenance medication like methadone or buprenorphine. Currently, one major advantage of methadone and buprenorphine over naltrexone is that people can start on methadone or buprenorphine without completely detoxing. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist and you have to detox completely before beginning treatments, else you risk rapid detox. Lucemyra may be a way to lessen the severity of detox so people don’t feel the need to transition to addictive substances like methadone or buprenorphine. However people decide to move forward, Lucemyra will lower a major obstacle to recovery. Medication assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine along with cognitive behavioral therapy is still the most reliable way of quitting opioids, but having more options is always better. For example, more moderate withdrawal might make more people willing to use Vivitrol, the monthly shot of naltrexone, which has a slightly higher abstinence rate than buprenorphine for people who actually maintain treatment. Every situation is different and lowering the barriers to treatment will help everyone.
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, we can help. Recovery Ways is a leading addiction treatment provider with an excellent recovery rate. Our expert staff includes masters and PhD level therapists and board certified addiction psychiatrists. Our comfortable facilities will help to make your treatment as enjoyable as possible and our therapists use proven techniques like sensory integration and recreation therapy to help to engage the world without the assistance of drugs or alcohol. Call us today at 1-888-986-7848 or email us through our contact page to learn more.