Former Nacada boss John Mututho, Rusan Pharma Ltd Chairman Nevin Saxena (centre) and International Marketing Vice President Smita Holey (left) when they launched the new medicine in Nakuru. [PHOTO: KIPSANG JOSEPH/Standard]

Hooked on alcohol or drugs? A new medicine can help you get off the hook gradually and without much strain, according to John Mututho, the former anti-drug abuse agency boss.

Mututho, the former chairman of the National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada), has partnered with an Indian company to introduce the implantation tablet that, he said, helps alcohol addicts stay sober.

The medicine naltrexone is manufactured by Rusan Pharma Ltd, the Indian firm.

Mututho and Nevin Saxena, the chairman Rusan Pharma Ltd, launched Naltrexone at the weekend. Dr Saxena described naltrexone as non-addictive, non-narcotic medicine that attaches to the opiate receptors in an addicts' brain, which contribute to the pleasurable effects alcoholics feel when drinking alcohol.

"When Naltrexone blocks these receptors, people experience fewer alcohol cravings and less pleasure if they drink alcohol. With naltrexone helping to support sobriety, patients are better able to abstain from drinking and focus on their recovery programme," said Saxena.

He said the drug has been successful in the treatment of alcoholics in India and introducing it in Kenya would help alleviate the suffering of the six million people said to be hooked on alcohol.

"Naltrexone is the first product in the world in treatment of alcoholism and Kenya is one of the first countries where the drug will be used. The United Kingdom government is doing a clinical trial on the product. It will be the first drug for alcoholism in Europe once the trial is over," Saxena said.

Mututho is behind the John Mututho Rehab Centre in Nakuru's Mwariki Estate, said to be Africa's largest rehab centre.

The centre is used for rehabilitating, sheltering and training drug and alcohol addicts. It has facilities like gyms, saunas, jacuzzis, swimming pools, a basket ball court, rugby and football fields, pool table rooms and modern hostels.

Mututho, whose term at Nacada was steeped in management wrangles, said the medicine will be offered at the centre at a subsidised price as most addicts and their families cannot afford to buy it.

Most rehab centres in the country are privately owned, which makes it hard for addicts from poor backgrounds to access their services due to the exorbitant charges.

"The world reacted with shock to news that there are six million addicts in Kenya. Until now there was no known drug to treat alcoholism. Rusan responded to our plea after we shared our thoughts with the world," said the former Naivasha MP.

During his tenure at Nacada, Mututho pushed the Government to establish state-owned rehabilitation centres.

On Friday during get the launch of the implant, Saxena noted that the centre would use a three-part approach to recovery that would help addicts win your battle against alcoholism and be free to enjoy their lives again.

"From our experience, detoxing is the first step toward this goal, rather than the achievement of it. We want to help them to stay clean for the rest of their lives, so we focus on connecting them to the resources they need to do so. In addition to helping them find individual professional therapy and supportive group treatment, we recommend naltrexone to help block your alcohol cravings," he said.

He said that the naltrexone implant releases the medicine slowly over an eight-week period. "This small implant goes under the patient's skin, so they experience a steady dose of opiate blockers and don't forget or skip their medicine," he explained.

When patients get a steady dose of naltrexone every day for a prolonged period of time, they have a much better outcome, said Saxena.