In 2016 the FDA finally announced that it had approved the treatment of opioid addiction via implant. This implant is the first of its kind and functions as a subdermal, extensive use device which utilizes buprenorphine. This ruling has caused excitement both within the healthcare and rehab field as it gives doctors and providers new tools with which to battle opioid addiction, which has become a growing problem in many American cities.
How The Implant Works
This device appears in the form of a medicated rod which is implanted during a single session. It is designed in such a way where it provides a steady, consistent release of buprenorphine in lower dosages over a period of approximately 180 days. The technology is specifically geared towards recovering addicts who have been stable for at least six months for other buprenorphine delivery programs, including by tablet and film.
Buprenorphine is a medication that has been approved for the treatment of opioid addiction and is commonly sold in the form of a tablet that is swallowed or a film that is situated beneath the tongue or within the cheek. Both of these traditional methods are typically self-administered by the patient, and if used excessively or abused can lead to addiction. Probuphine is the name for the implantable version of buprenorphine, and will be inserted just under the skin of the upper arm within an outpatient facility. Once it has been worn for a set period of time it will be removed in a similar way.
Advantages Of Using Implants To Treat Drug Addiction
A persistent, long standing criticism of addiction treatment is the usage of drugs to treat addiction to drugs. Some recovering addicts may overcome their addiction to a substance such as heroin, only to become addicted to another substance such as buprenorphine. This is especially true when recovering addicts are allowed to self-administer medications, which increases the likelihood of abuse.
Implants overcome this problem because they must be administered in a clinical setting, and once inserted the implant will automatically release the correct amount of dosages into the patient’s system without their involvement. This dramatically reduces the chances of abuse since the patient no longer has control over how much or how little buprenorphine they take. Their opioid cravings are eliminated while the risk of becoming addicted to buprenorphine in turn becomes virtually nonexistent.
The procedure for inserting the implant is referred to as MAT, or medication assisted treatment. It is affordable and has been shown to assist patients in not only recovering from opioids such as heroin, but also preventing overdoses, improving social standing and lowering the risk of transmitting disease such as Hepatitis C. When you consider the fact that over 2 million Americans were found to be addicted to various opioids during 2014, it becomes easy to see why these implants have caused so much excitement within the healthcare field. Rehab centers in particular will have a new tool in their arsenal that will allow their patients to overcome their addictions and remain that way.