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Alternative Therapies
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There are several alternative therapies for addiction and withdrawal based on two strategies, abstinence or substitution:Street Works

  • Psychiatric treatments
  • Psychosocial treatments
  • Rapid deter
  • Acupuncture, massage, Herbals, etc.
  • Pharmaceutical treatments:
  • Substitution therapy
  • Medications that discourage use by inducing unpleasant consequences when abused drug is used
  • Medication used to treat pre-existing psychiatric conditions that may have initiated drug use.

There are two aspects in controlling addictions; psychic withdrawal and drug craving.


Agonist: Drug that mimics another drug or naturally occurring substance in the body, to produce a psychological effect.

Antagonist: Drug that blocks the action (physiological effect) of another drug or naturally occurring substance in the body.

Heroin Alternatives

Buprenorphine (Buprenex), which is a semi-synthetic opioid, mixed narcotic agonist-antagonist that produces a lower degree of sedation and respiratory depression than other narcotics, even with high doses.

It reduces the craving for heroin.

Buprenex is long-acting and needs to be taken orally every second day.

Best if used with Naltrexone.

LAAM (levomethadyl acetate hydrochloride) is a synthetic opiate that blocks neural receptors, which process heroin. LAAM, taken orally metabolizes slowly and needs to be taken 3 times per week.

LAAM is easier to withdraw from than methadone and works best if combined with naltrexone.

Naltrexone (Trexan) is a narcotic antagonist related to Narcan and is used for complete or partial reversal of narcotic effects.

Doloxene (Darvon) is an analgesic/narcotic, to 1/3 as potent as codeine and is used experimentally to suppress withdrawal symptoms/

Heantos is a combination of tree bark, leaves, and various plants found in Vietnam. A construction worker invented it after his father and brother died from opiate addictions. There is a claim that it can cure a heroin addiction in three days and is currently undergoing testing by the United Nations Development Program.

Ibogaine is not a narcotic agonist or antagonist (researchers are still unsure of its action) and it was initially developed in the 60s to treat alcoholism.

Ibogaine is used with Naloxone (Narcan) to lessen withdrawal symptoms. It is cleared from the body within a few hours, but depresses opiate intake for up to several weeks.

Heroin Trials are a new approach due to increasing number of heroin overdose deaths around the world. The idea is to provide clean, pure, safe dosages to heroin addicts. Heroin is shorter-acting and easier to withdraw from than methadone.

Cocaine Alternatives

E-2078 + Dopamine Agonist

Cocaine bingeing blocks dopamine reabsorption by nerve cells, and may alter levels of dynorphin A, a natural opioid. Dynorphine A also seems to affect dopamine levels.

A drug that mimics Dynorphine A may help treat cocaine addiction and researchers have discovered a peptide called E-2078 that creates steady blood levels of dopamine, instead of the ups and downs of cocaine. A combination of E-2078 and a dopamine agonist may be a possible solution to cocaine addiction.

More research is being done.

Dopamine Agonist (e.g. Levodopa) acts in the brain by increasing the dopamine concentration or by enhancing neurotransmission of dopamine.

Coca Tea/Leaves (precursor to cocaine) are used to control craving and prevent relapse. There is no rush experienced. An infusion is made with crushed leaves and steeped in hot water and drank or leaves are chewed which releases some of the drug.

Ritalin competes with cocaine for the same binding sites in adults. It provides the same rush, but lasts longer (90 min compared with 10-20 min) than cocaine.

Safe injection sites

In the face of rising Hepatitis C and HIV rates among IDUs, the idea of safe supervised injection facility has been developed. It would provide a clean, protected environment for people to use their drugs and sterile equipment and medical personnel would be available.

This is not a solution to drug use, but rather reduces the risks involved.

Safe sites tried in other countries have been successful in reducing the rates of new transmissions. A number of individuals have established treatment connections through the safe sites.

Prescription Heroin

This is a method of harm reduction that has occurred in the UK for the past several years. The idea is to prescribe heroin as a substitute to the drugs that people may be seeking on the street. This is turn helps to stabilize people and decrease crime and high-risk activities associated to the drug seeking.

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