opiate addiction

ANR is a drug procedure for the treatment of opiate dependence. The following substances belong to the group of opiates (called opioids in medical terminology):

  • Illegal opioid drugs (e.g. opium, heroin, etc..)
  • Legally or illegally consumed opioid substitution drugs (e.g. methadone, buprenorphine, diaphin, etc..)
  • Opioid-containing painkillers (e.g. morphine, pethidine, fentanyl, etc.

Substances such as alcohol, cocaine or cannabis do not fall under the category of opiates and therefore cannot be treated by the ANR procedure.

Opioids and their effects

Opioids are medications containing opium (legal or medically prescribed) or (illegally consumed) drugs. Morphine is the oldest and most relevant. Opioids also include substances used as drugs, such as opium or heroin, or as substitutes, such as methadone and buprenorphine.

Important for understanding opioid dependence is the fact that regular use of opioids causes adaptation processes in the brain. It is assumed that with the supply of opioids the “docking sites” (opioid receptors) increase or become more sensitive. This leads to an imbalance in the brain. This means that a certain amount of opioids must be taken regularly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Dependency & Addiction

These processes are ultimately responsible for the dependency syndrome, i.e. the insatiable craving for the substance as well as the withdrawal symptoms of abstinence. ANR is nothing more than a medicinal regulation of the imbalance in the brain. Therefore, neither craving nor withdrawal symptoms occur after the ANR treatment.

Psychosocial factors (e.g. group pressure, difficult biography, etc..) determine the addictive behaviour, cannot be grasped on the physical level and are therefore not accessible to treatment by the ANR procedure. The interactions between dependence and addiction are complex and can never be fully clarified before treatment. Our experience is, however, that dependence predominates in the vast majority of cases and that with ANR freedom from opioids can be achieved.

Opioid-dependent pain patients

Extreme pain requires the use of potent drugs. The use of opioids (e.g. morphine, fentanyl, etc.) in emergency departments, ambulance teams and surgery is therefore a daily routine and usually unproblematic. The situation is different with chronic pain. There, extremely complex bio-psycho-social patterns of pain development and processing play a role. For this reason, the administration of opioids very often only brings about a certain improvement at the beginning if the cause of the pain cannot be specifically addressed. This in turn usually leads to an increase in the dose and this often leads to an escalation of the opioid dosage. This can go so far that conventional opioid withdrawal is hardly possible.

We observed the following phenomena in our patients:

  • Persistent, i.e. only slightly reduced pain despite maximum doses of opioids.
  • Pronounced side effects, which can massively impair the quality of life.
  • The so-called opioid-induced hyperalgesia, i.e. an often impressive hypersensitivity at the site of the original pain, often combined with an expansion of the pain zones.

The treatment of opioid dependence in chronic pain is accessible by the ANR method. Through a targeted, medicinal blockade of the opioid receptors (docking sites for opioids) in the brain under anaesthesia, the dependence is gently and lastingly eliminated.

Not a single patient complained of increased pain after treatment, but the side effects of the opioids were no longer present.

As part of the ANR Switzerland pilot project, about 25 opioid-dependent pain patients have been treated over the past five years in addition to heroin and methadone addicts.

We made the following observations:

  • There are hardly any upper limits for opioid dosage.
  • ANR was successful in patients who did not undergo conventional withdrawal.
  • Not a single patient complained of increased pain after treatment, but the side effects of the opioids were no longer present.
  • The opioid-induced hyperalgesia disappears, which allows the patients again local therapeutic measures such as massages, physiotherapy, MTT, etc..