What Is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is commonly prescribed to treat Opioid addictions. By blocking the harmful effects of Opioids, the medication reduces the cravings usually caused by the drugs. It should be used as part of a comprehensive recovery program that may consist of counseling, support groups, and other treatment methods recommended by your doctor or licensed therapist.

Naltrexone blocks the negative effects Opioids have on the brain and prevents the feeling of getting high.

Naltrexone will trigger withdrawal symptoms if you are currently physically dependent on Opioids. It’s important to refrain from taking Opioids for a minimum of 7-10 days before taking Naltrexone to reduce the risk of a withdrawal. However, the length of time will vary from 1 person to another depending on the type of Opioid addiction, the dose, and how long the addiction lasted.

Recovering from an addiction to Opioids takes time and patience, as it’s not a quick process. But with the help of medications like Naltrexone and an array of treatment options available, you will have support every step of the way.

Uses Of Naltrexone

Naltrexone works differently than other types of medication used in Opioid addiction treatment. Medicines like Buprenorphine and Methadone help reduce cravings. On the other hand, Naltrexone eliminates any desire to take Opioids. By blocking these Opioid receptors, Naltrexone users do not experience the euphoric and sedative effects of taking Opioids.

Naltrexone does not cause any withdrawals or cravings when you stop taking it, making it a good option for someone concerned about coming off.

How Does Naltrexone Help Addiction Treatment?

Oftentimes, Opioids will give you a “high” or “rush” feeling – a feeling of contentment and pain relief. When taking Naltrexone, these feelings will be blocked. Over time, you will regain a drug-free state of mind, allowing you to focus on developing a healthier lifestyle.

Although Naltrexone is commonly used to treat an Opioid addiction, it may not stop drug cravings. For this reason, Naltrexone has the highest chance for success when an individual has completed the withdrawal stage and is motivated to continue on in the recovery process. Alert your doctor immediately if you experience any cravings for Opioids.

You may be more sensitive to lower doses of Opioids after taking Naltrexone, so you should abstain from taking any drugs at the conclusion of your medication-assisted treatment. Falling back on Heroin or any other Opioids could cause serious complications, including an overdose.

How Is Naltrexone Administered?

Naltrexone is available in 3 forms: tablet, injectable, and implant device. Common brand names for the tablet are ReVia and Depade. The injectable extended-release form of the drug is often sold under the name Vivitrol.

Naltrexone is most commonly administered in a tablet form; however, the injectable and implant device options are gaining momentum.

Tablet-form doses of Naltrexone will vary by person, the strength of the medicine, and the amount of medicine required each day. Follow your doctor’s instructions for consumption information. It can be taken at home or in a treatment center setting. If you’re taking the tablet form at home, it may be helpful to have a family member or caregiver administer the doses as scheduled. Do not adjust your amount of medication unless your doctor tells you to.

Another form of Naltrexone is a type of implant used for treatment. Implants are shaped like small pellets and are inserted into the lower abdominal wall. Insertion is completed with a local Anesthetic. Once implanted, the device releases a consistent amount of Naltrexone in the body for approximately 3-6 months. Currently, implants are only available in an inpatient treatment setting in order to monitor potential side effects.

The medication can also be administered through an extended-release injectable. Each month, the medication is injected into a muscle. It can only be administered by a doctor or nurse in a clinic setting, so it’s important to receive doses regularly in order to achieve the greatest benefit. Shortly after receiving the medication, you may notice pain, redness, bruising or swelling near the injection site. While this is common, be sure to notify your doctor if it does not go away or gets worse within 2 weeks.

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Side Effects Of Naltrexone

Taking Naltrexone may cause side effects. These generally disappear once your body adjusts to the medicine. Minor side effects that have been reported include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Mild abdominal pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Joint or muscle pain

Always talk with your healthcare provider about potential side effects and complications before starting Naltrexone. This will give you an opportunity to clarify any questions or concerns you may have prior to taking the medication.

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Naltrexone Interactions

Sometimes, Naltrexone can cause unpleasant effects when combined with certain substances, including ones that are over-the-counter, prescribed, supplements, or herbal remedies. Several of the more common drugs that may counteract with Naltrexone are:

  • Opioids
  • Methadone
  • Certain medications for diarrhea, cough, and pain
  • Disulfiram
  • Thioridazine

Keep an updated list of all medications you are currently taking and speak with your doctor about drug interactions before taking Naltrexone. Check with your doctor immediately if you begin to experience any negative side effects from taking the medication.

Where Is Naltrexone Available?

Naltrexone is only available with a doctor’s prescription. Your doctor will work with you to develop a recovery plan tailored to your needs. Depending on where you are in treatment, the medication may be administered in an inpatient facility or at your home. Medication-assisted therapy, such as the use of Naltrexone, should always be used as part of an overall recovery program to achieve long-term sobriety.

Naltrexone Statistics

80

percent

When Naltrexone is prescribed, patients have an 80% cure rate for alcohol dependence.

30-50

percent

Medications significantly increase the success of treatment and reduce overdoses by at least 30 to 50%.

3/4

users

Nearly three-quarters of Opioid users also regularly drink alcohol. Research indicates that taking Naltrexone may address both issues simultaneously.

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Do you want to find out if Naltrexone can play a role in the treatment of your or a loved one’s addiction? Do you have any other questions about your addiction recovery options? Contact a treatment provider to start asking questions today.

Published:

Author

Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC), David works closely with area treatment centers, recovery orientated nonprofit organizations, as well as being a keynote speaker for various recovery-focused events.

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