Health Check: Implant 'fights alcohol abuse'

  • 16 August 2010
  • From the section Home

The Latvian capital Riga is rapidly becoming a popular destination for medical tourism.

Flights are relatively cheap, as is the cost of living, which makes treatment more affordable.

One clinic in Riga is offering a mini-break for people with alcohol dependence problems, aimed at helping them kick their addiction.

Upon arrival at the clinic patients undergo a detoxification period, 'drying out' under sedation for three to four days.

On the fourth day they receive a surgical implant, fitted under the lower abdomen, which slowly dissolves to release the drug Disulfiram.

Disulfiram works by blocking the body's ability to break down alcohol. If the patient starts drinking alcohol again, they may experience intense discomfort and sickness within ten minutes.

These implants are common in former Soviet countries, but are not readily available in many others, including the UK, where it is only offered as a private treatment.