Deaths involving drug overdose and opioid use are on the rise in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than six in 10 drug overdose death involve an opioid. Moreover, over half a million people succumbed to drug overdoses between 2000-2015.
Opioid addiction destroys one’s health and is a socioeconomic hazard. While current pharmacotherapy treatment for treating opioid addiction is still limited, the associated side effects bother the patients and the doctors, which warrants the need of a novel treatment. Traditionally, Oxytocin (OT) has been recommended to develop social affiliation and bonding, alleviate stress and promote learning and memory. A recent study gave strong evidence favoring the efficacy of OT to treat drug addiction and other co-occurring conditions of depression and addiction.
Oxytocin as a supplement to existing pharmacotherapy
According to the findings of the research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology on April 5, 2017, neuropeptide oxytocin may be efficacious in the treatment of opioid addiction-related problems and comorbid mood disorders while helping to prevent relapse. The study is significant in the view that substance abuse for longer duration leads to social isolation, cognitive decline and poor decision-making. Subsequently, impaired social behavior is likely to increase the risk of relapse after long-term abstinence.
Alexis Bailey, who is a senior lecturer in neuropharmacology at the Institute of Medical and Biomedical Education at St. George’s University of London, and one of the review’s authors, said, “Oxytocin intranasal spray may have the potential to be used as an ad hoc medication with current pharmacotherapy (buprenorphine or methadone) as an aid to reduce the urges that opioid-dependent individuals have to use heroin (triggered by drug associated cues or stress per se) while on substitution maintenance therapy.”
After reviewing the previously published literature, Bailey, and his colleagues discovered that oxytocin could be an important constituent in developing effective treatment approaches for opioid dependence and co-existing emotional impairment. The edge Oxytocin has over other medications available to treat comorbidity is that no evidence has been found regarding its abuse or addiction potential. However, the researchers are still cautious about its use and highlight the need for further clinical studies to see how oxytocin-based pharmacotherapies work at various levels of opioid addiction. They also stress the importance of further studies to determine dosages that might be appropriate to show their effectiveness while minimizing potential side effects.
Bailey emphasized that their findings about Oxytocin were quite nascent and randomized clinical trials would be required to test its full potential. However, he hinted about the possible use of Oxytocin as an intranasal spray for people with opioid dependence, which can be used in the same way as people with asthma use their inhalers during an attack.
Treatment for dual diagnosis
Dual diagnosis is treated using an integrated intervention, which includes offering care for both the mental illness and substance abuse disorder. There are many ways to treat the dual symptoms, by using medication, psychotherapy, a combination of both, or alternative therapies like yoga, depending on the symptoms and severity of the disorders. Typically, the treatment begins with detox, followed by inpatient rehabilitation. Patients can also join self-help groups to reinstate their self-worth and cope with withdrawal symptoms.
People looking for dual diagnosis treatment can visit the California Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about the various treatment options. You can call the 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1736 to get information about state-of-the-art rehabs in California or join our mental health executive over an online chat session to know about the best dual diagnosis treatment centers in California.