Women Being Prescribed Surgical Implants to Combat Alcohol Issues

Michaela Whitton
April 19, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — Women who have become a little too fond of their night caps are being treated with implants to help them curb their drinking. According to Irish media, women between the ages of 30 and 50 have replaced afternoon chats over tea and cake with a glass of wine — and they are increasingly seeking help for addiction. Naltrexone, the implant prescribed, is traditionally associated with heroin users, but the opiate-blocker also reduces the pleasures and highs associated with alcohol consumption.

At first glance, the report in the Irish Independent reads somewhat sexist. It warns against the wine drinking culture of “ladies who lunch” and “middle-class women” who have become accustomed to a bottle of wine every night to shake off the day. Doctors claim the increased consumption is partly caused by the feminist revolution and “newly defined gender roles” that place pressure and expectations on women.

Archaic as their logic sounds, the concerns about the troublesome culture shift are echoed by hepatologists at Cork University hospital. Dr. Orla Crosbie said in the last decade there has been a huge increase in the number of women in need of treatment for alcohol-related liver disease. In her own practice, almost 40% of the patients being treated for cirrhosis of the liver are female.

Naltrexone implants are inserted under women’s skin during a fifteen-minute procedure. Prescribed to both alcohol- and opiate-dependent patients, they help combat cravings and assist in reducing or controlling the patient’s substance misuse. Lasting for three months and costing a whopping €1,150, the implant requires patients to abstain from their drug of choice during treatment. However, the implant is not a cure-all, and as with anything, the individual must be motivated to change. Proof of this is evidenced in rumours of desperate users contemplating the extreme measure of cutting out their own implants.

Since One Step — an Irish clinic for addiction treatment — began the programme 18 months ago, hundreds of patients have attended the part-time rehab programme, which allows them to access treatment and still attend work. Many are receiving counselling in conjunction with the implant.

Describing the troublesome new trend in alcohol use, Dr. Crosbie said it certainly isn’t something Ireland would have seen ten or twenty years ago. She said it is tragic to see so many young females with very significant health issues due to alcohol, and added that some are dying and leaving behind young children.

“We do need to change our attitude towards alcohol to try and reverse the situation, and have a healthier relationship with alcohol in Ireland,” she said.

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