A brief guide to how
HOW OPIOSTOP WORKS
Everyone produces opioids, the natural endorphins, in their body. They are highly potent and much more than just feel-good hormones – they are the best painkillers we have. They make us more attentive, relax us and play an important role in sleep. The production of endorphins is regulated by stimuli such as physical exercise, sports, sexual activity, intellectual stimulation, music, tension, pain and excitement. We feel calm and upbeat after engaging in sporting activities despite our tired muscles – that's the effect of our endorphins.
People who repeatedly take external opioids over an extended period of time suppress the body's own natural endorphin production, inhibiting the body's natural «doping» mechanism. This is the first step towards dependency: dependents feel that they need a daily supply of the external substance because they are lacking in their own endorphins. As time goes by, an increase in consumption of the external substance creates a self-reinforcing and self-sustaining spiral, the final stage of dependency. Attaining the original effect requires ever higher doses, but the effect diminishes, despite the high doses they are taking.
The balance between opioid receptor and opioid is lost. The receptors, the docking sites for opioids in the brain, are upregulated and ever higher doses of opioids are required to slate this neurobiochemical thirst. It makes no difference whether the dependency is the result of illegal drug use – drug patients – or medically prescribed pain therapy – pain patients.
Stopping opioids leads to severe, painful physical withdrawal symptoms, a condition that dependents try to avoid under all circumstances. If they do manage to withdraw successfully, there is often a «craving», an «insatiable hunger for the substance», which gives rise to a high relapse rate after conventional withdrawal procedures. OPIOSTOP treatment takes a different approach. The opioid receptors are blocked under anaesthesia in line with a patient's individual needs in several steps during the withdrawal, depending on the patient's medical history, the duration of dependency and the clinical symptoms. This is achieved using the opiate antagonist naltrexone, which is an excellent fit for the receptors (high affinity) but has no effect on them (lack of intrinsic effect).
Blocking of opioid receptors under anaesthesia
It is akin to a key that fits into a complex lock but cannot unlock it and therefore is unable to open the door. Naltrexone chemically blocks the opioid receptors, thereby switching them off. and achieving the objective of the OPIOSTOP treatment, which is to restore the original, natural balance between opioid receptors and endorphins. Following their withdrawal, patients are once again able to feel and enjoy the positive properties of endorphins. The desire for the artificial opioid diminishes drastically and becomes an irrelevance. A positive side effect is that the withdrawal takes place under anaesthesia, which means that it is not consciously experienced and can take place much faster.
Follow-up treatment with naltrexone
The naltrexone blockade must be maintained for several months after the anaesthesia. Discontinuing it too early leads to renewed desires and cravings, making a relapse much more likely. After about a year, the body begins to re-establish the natural balance between receptors and endorphins, allowing the dosage of the artificial naltrexone blockade to be gradually reduced and eventually ended altogether. The OPIOSTOP treatment is only concluded when the patient is no longer required to take naltrexone.
OPIOSTOP is based on the ANR procedure (Accelerated Neuroregulation) and comprises the following four treatment steps:
The treatment aims is to flush out the opiate reservoirs in the body's bone and fatty tissue by acidifying the metabolism.
Under anaesthesia, an individually tailored naltrexone blockade is used to regulate the opiate receptors,
providing stimulation for the endorphin system, which has been suppressed by the intake of external opiates.
The follow-up treatment consists of taking naltrexone in tablet form for a period of 12 to 18 months. Only then ist the treatment concluded.