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Non-Addictive Heroin To Cure Depression Raises Concerns

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A headline like “Non-Addictive ‘Heroin Like’ Medicine Crushes Depression” is sure to attract a good deal of attention. The explicit oxymoron of something being like heroin and not addictive notwithstanding, this is a real story. The gist here is that “A new investigational drug, currently known as ALKS 5461, could deliver all the mood-enhancing and anxiety-lowering effects that lead people to use opiates like heroin and Oxycontin—without the potential for getting high or addicted. That’s right:  ALKS 5461 could be a non-abusable, non-addictive heroin-like compound.” This would still be a medication that requires perhaps a daily use, so while one would technically not be abusing a drug, a dependency on a regimented dose is still the reality. Reuters posted an article a year ago on the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug and expands a bit on the reasoning behind the drug’s inception.

More Medications…More Responsibilites

With the variegated fields of mental illness becoming more and more nuanced, they are also becoming overlapped, as in the case of addiction and clinical depression. Drug companies are capitalizing on this by synthesizing prescription medications that cater to the variety of symptoms. A possible problem to this approach is that the symptoms are only being addressed and alleviated, and not the root causes of addiction and/or depression. It can be likely that manic depressive behaviors diagnosed in recovering addicts are caused by the addictions in the first place, and not simply “another” chemical imbalance in the brain. This underscores the importance that drug treatment centers incorporate a dual diagnosis approach to chemical dependencies and mental illness, because they often may be correlated and intertwined.

Proceed With Extreme Caution!

Prescription medications are extremely helpful in some cases, but also can be extremely dangerous in other situations. A sensitive and deliberate approach with doctors, health care providers, addiction counselors and other professional mental health therapists is imperative in deciding which direction and what medication would be the most helpful. The bottom line is that recovery is possible, stories of hope abound, and life after addiction and other mental illnesses can be enjoyed more abundantly. The alleviation of symptoms should not be the main focus. They should be used as a temporary salve while digging deep for the root cause of such symptoms. Again, prescription drugs that alter the chemical highways and byways of the brain’s synapses should not be taken casually or without serious medical advice and deliberations.


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