It is the story of Susan.
"I was alone and I was just going to have one drink. I know that I can never just have one, and I didn't. I barely remember what happened. I'm lucky that I wasn't hurt too badly and that I didn't kill someone else. My new $35,000 Saab is gone and I had to spend the night in jail. I'm so ashamed.
This was Susan's story. Susan is a 45-year old scientist whose family is riddled with alcoholism and opiate addiction. She refused to join AA because it was "too public and too religious".
I started seeing her a year ago when her husband brought her into the clinic. She had been drinking up to 2 bottles of wine per day for over a year and it had finally caught up with her. She developed severe abdominal pain, but even that didn't stop her. I put her in the hospital for a couple of days to "dry her out". We suggested the Prometa protocol for alcohol addictions, but Susan was hesitant because it was expensive and new.
Instead she entered into therapy with under my medical supervision. We used antidepressants, along with Campral and Vivitrol, two -FDA approved, efficacious medications for alcoholism. We also entered her into the Intense Outpatient Treatment Program (IOT).
Susan tried very hard. She knew it was important. But she had to deal with severe cravings almost every day. Her drinking drastically decreased. Although she did have an occasional binge. Her work performance improved and her marriage got better.
I was overall pleased with her progress. But I had some underlying anxieties that her physical cravings might take over. And, that is exactly what happened.
Within days of her last incident we started three IV Prometa treatments, along with other medications that comprise the protocol. By the third day Susan's head was clear and she told us that the cravings were gone. It is now about six weeks since the treatment and Susan still has "zero cravings".
I know you're thinking this remarkable change must be a fluke. I'd think that too if I hadn't seen the same reaction in almost all of the patients that I have treated with Prometa. In fact, going over my data for the past 18 months I have close to an 80% success rate for my Prometa and buprenorphine patients.
Addiction is a Brain Disease
The choice to use drugs sets in motion a cascade of events that lead to long lasting and even permanent neural damage. Society used to view drug and alcohol addictions, as a social failing that can only be conquered by strong will and faith. This model was developed in the early 20th century, a time when there was only rudimentary insight into the workings of the brain and also a time when there was no methamphetamine epidemic.
Medicine has come a long way since those days, but the treatment of substance abuse is still based on twelve step programs and other social interventions. This is important, but it's not the only thing that works.
Alcohol and drug addiction is a brain disease. And diseases are treated with medicine. Buprenorphine and Prometa are revolutionizing the treatments of the most important drug addictions: opiates, alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Buprenorphine for Opiate Addiction
Buprenorphine works by stimulating the opiate Mu receptors in the brain in a similar way to opiates themselves. Stimulation of these receptors produces pain relief and relaxation. With drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin and
), oxycodone (Oxycontin), morphine, and heroin, these effects rise steadily as the dose increases. Increasing doses lead to desensitization of the brain and the physical changes of drug addiction. Too much drug can result in overdose and death.
Buprenorphine only partially stimulates the Mu receptor, enough to eliminate drug cravings. However, it's not enough to desensitize the brain. And, since it's very long acting, the patient only has to use it once or twice daily.
Buprenorphine also blocks another opiate receptor, the kappa receptor, which is the cause of many withdrawal symptoms. This results in the elimination of cravings and an increased ability to slowly decrease the dose. Now patients can once again begin living normal lives.
Prometa Protocol for Cocaine, Methamphetamine, and Alcohol Addiction
Before Prometa there was no effective treatment for methamphetamine, cocaine, and alcohol cravings. There is simply nothing else that works. Without this treatment, patients feel tired, irritable, and depressed indefinitely. No wonder that almost all addicts eventually relapse.
Patients using Prometa protocol feel much better almost immediately. They almost all say that they think clearer. Even more importantly, their cravings disappear. In fact, one study of 50 methamphetamine addicts showed that almost 90 percent got significant positive effects. In my practice I see the same results. The patient stories are amazing.
And, the beauty of this treatment is that it is completed over one to 3 weeks with lasting results.
Medical Breakthrough Barriers
These treatments are not cure alls. They will only be fully successful when used as part of a comprehensive program.
There are barriers to getting these treatments to the people who need them:
Physicians must have a special federal waiver to prescribe Buprenorphine.
Physicians prescribing Buprenorphine can treat no more than 100 patients.
Prometa is only available at licensed centers and it is very expensive.
Insurance does not cover Prometa yet, pending completion of university based double blind studies.
The major difficulty, however, is the attitude of society and unfortunately, many members of the addiction treatment society towards this issue.