If you struggle with opioid addiction, you may know just how difficult it is to cope with the symptoms of withdrawal that appear when you suddenly stop taking an opioid. These flu-like symptoms can be so painful and uncomfortable that many people would rather continue using opioids than proceed with detoxification.
There are several FDA-approved medications that can alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and help treat opioid use disorder. Two of the most popular are Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and methadone. However, there is a downside to these medications.
Both Suboxone and methadone are considered opioids and can be physically habit-forming. People who take Suboxone or methadone for extended periods of time will have symptoms of withdrawal when they stop taking their medication.
Fortunately, a new, non-opioid prescription medication has been approved to help adults cope with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. This medication is called Lucemyra (lofexidine).
What is Lucemyra (Lofexidine)?
Lucemyra is a brand name prescription drug for the medication lofexidine. It was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2018 as the first non-opioid drug approved to treat opioid withdrawal.
According to the brand’s official website, “LUCEMYRA is a non-opioid prescription medicine used in adults to help with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal that may happen when you stop taking an opioid suddenly. LUCEMYRA will not completely prevent the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and is not a treatment for opioid use disorder.”
Lofexidine works by blocking the release of norepinephrine in the body, a neurotransmitter that is partially responsible for opioid withdrawal symptoms. Norepinephrine is very similar to adrenaline and causes the central nervous system to function in an overactive state. While in withdrawal, people have high levels of norepinephrine, but when those levels are decreased, withdrawal symptoms become less severe. Lofexidine balances norepinephrine levels.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal that Lucemyra reduces include:
- Body aches and pains
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Teary eyes
- Muscle spasms
- Increased heart rate
Lucemyra does not treat opioid use disorder–it helps reduce symptoms of withdrawal, and should always be combined with a complete treatment program involving compliance monitoring, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Lucemyra (Lofexidine) Side Effects
Like all prescription medications, Lucemyra may cause side effects, but it has fewer reported side effects than other opioid treatment medications. The most common side effects include:
- Low blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Slowed heart rate
The medication should not be combined with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates as respiratory depression and other adverse side effects may occur. You should also drink plenty of water while taking this medication to avoid becoming dehydrated.
How is Lucemyra Used During Opioid Detox?
If your doctor prescribes lofexidine to help you cope with opioid withdrawal, you should take the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. You should follow the directions on the label and read the label in its entirety.
Lofexidine can be taken with or without food and is taken on a daily basis for up to 14 days (two weeks). The initial dose typically starts at 0.54mg orally 4 times a day, every 5-6 hours during peak withdrawal. Your doctor may adjust your dose or even stop treatment early based on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.
In clinical trials, Lucemyra provided the most symptom relief on Day 2 and Day 3 of opioid withdrawal, when symptoms were often the most severe. And, 40-41% of people who took the medication remained in treatment after 7 days while only 28% of the placebo group did. This means the medication can not only reduce your withdrawal symptoms but also help you stay in treatment longer so you’re more likely to stay sober in the long run.
You should not stop taking lofexidine abruptly. Suddenly stopping the medication may cause a rapid increase in blood pressure and unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms. Instead, your doctor will slowly reduce your dose over a period of 2-4 days so you don’t have any side effects of discontinuation.
How Do I Know if Lucemyra is Right For Me?
If traditional addiction treatment involving just behavioral therapy or other medications like buprenorphine has not worked for you in the past, Lucemyra may be able to help you recover. Speak with your doctor or an addiction specialist to see if Lucemyra is right for you. Anyone who is planning on abruptly stopping the use of an opioid may qualify.
It’s also important to note that Lucemyra is most effective when combined with a comprehensive treatment program, which may include individual and group counseling, behavioral therapy, support groups, and other treatment medications. If you aren’t prepared to commit to a recovery program, this medication may not be right for you.
The most important thing to remember is that no single medication can cure addiction. Lucemyra is not addictive and not an opioid, so it may be safer than some other opioid withdrawal medications, but it won’t keep you sober forever. Recovery is an ongoing journey that requires personal dedication and commitment. It can’t be cured overnight, but by embracing healthy lifestyle changes and relying on a sober support group for guidance, anyone can achieve long-term sobriety.
Start Your Recovery Today
Opioid withdrawal is typically not life-threatening, but it is extremely challenging to endure. Medications like Lucemyra, combined with comprehensive treatment, can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and make it easier to embark on the road to recovery.
If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, please contact us today. Our team of admissions counselors is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have, verify your insurance, and help you find the right treatment program for you. Call now to get started.