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Former UK drugs advisor to speak at"dream drug" heroin treatment centre

Professor David Nutt says naltrexone can allow heroin addicts “live a normal life”.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

A FORMER ADVISOR to the UK government on drugs will tonight tell a group of Irish healthcare professionals about how a new clinic in Dublin can fight heroin addiction.

The newly opened Naltrexone Clinic provides a specialist service administering naltrexone preparations to patients suffering opiate and alcohol addiction.

Naltrexone is a non-addictive inhibitor that stops a patient feeling the euphoria of opiates like heroin, methadone and morphine.

Professor David Nutt will address Irish medical professionals at a meeting coinciding with the launch of the clinic.

There, he will outline the benefits of the treatment, which he says help addicts “live in the real world”.

“In a way, naltrexone is a dream drug. It’s not addictive and can reset the brain back to where it was before addiction,” says Professor Nutt.

He adds that the drug has been around for nearly 40 years, but there had been problems ensuring that addicts were taking it.

With the implant, we can be sure that people are on naltrexone for three months. This is particularly useful if they don’t have somebody who is making sure that they are taking it.

The implant essentially blunts the effects of drugs, alcohol and even gambling. People with the implant installed can take a drug, but will feel none of the effects.

What it can do for addicts in the long run is not yet know because there is not enough long-term data, but some users come off it after a year to begin fighting their addictions.

“You can never say someone is cured,” says Nutt.

“You look at Philip Seymour Hoffman. He was 24 years clean before he relapsed.

What you can say is naltrexone always works and that users don’t build up a tolerance to it. In that way, they can use it for as long as they need.

Dream drug

So, if it is such a dream drug, why isn’t it widely used or available?

“It’s not well known, for a start.

Many addicts prefer to be on methadone, because there is a satisfaction in that.

“This drug can now be delivered in a sustainable way, now that the technology has caught up with it.”

The future for naltrexone all boils down to one thing, says Nutt.

“If people are willing to take it, it will be successful.

“It can help people live a normal life.”

Read: Women prisoners are ‘significantly more likely’ to use drugs

Read: Ireland has 9,615 methadone users but care plans needed to get them drug-free

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