Naltrexone Summary

Doctors and substance abuse centers use Naltrexone in the treatment of substance use disorders, specifically Alcohol Use Disorders and Opioid Use Disorders. Drug and alcohol abuse treatment providers use Naltrexone for alcohol dependence and opioid dependence as part of an overall treatment program.  Naltrexone is used for the treatment of opioid abuse in both inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab settings.

Whenever a person is struggling with alcohol or opioid addiction or abuse, it’s good to have treatment options so that a comprehensive plan can be developed specifically for them.  Substance abuse treatment medications play a vital role in addiction recovery for many people. Alcohol abuse and opioid abuse can have many adverse side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings can be severe, and having prescription medications available can be a big help for someone’s doctor and substance abuse treatment providers.

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a prescription medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence and for someone who is dependent on opioids. Alcohol and opioids can both cause physical dependence. The effects of opioid and alcohol withdrawal can be severe and Naltrexone can help with cravings.

Naltrexone Effects

Naltrexone may cause the following side effects.  The goal of taking Naltrexone is to minimize the effects of opioid and alcohol cravings so that an individual can successfully enter recovery.  Your doctor or pharmacist has weighed the adverse effect of you taking this medication during your treatment for opioid or alcohol dependence against the benefits it will have for you. Some possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping

Additionally, Naltrexone may cause mild opiate withdrawal side effects, however, this is not common.  When this occurs, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Restlessness
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Muscle pains
  • Runny nose

Treatment with Naltrexone, which is the generic name, is also known by the brand names Vivitrol and Revia, and available by prescription only through your doctor.  The effects are meant to assist with relapse prevention, and any adverse effect should hopefully be minor.

Signs of Naltrexone Abuse and Addiction

Naltrexone is not an addictive substance itself, and is used in treatment of opioid addiction and alcohol use disorders. Taking Naltrexone can cause some issues, but the overall benefits for treatment are great.  naltrexone binds to the opioid receptors which helps with cravings and blocking the effects of opioids, including euphoria. Your doctor will make sure you do not have any adverse drug interactions based on medications you already take before starting treatment with Naltrexone. The drug can be taken in Naltrexone oral doses and there is also injectable Naltrexone. Naltrexone treatment can also be done through an extended release pellet Naltrexone implant.

Naltrexone Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’ve been on a course of Naltrexone treatment and you’ve stopped taking the medication, you will not experience withdrawal side effects as you would with other drugs or alcohol, but there are other issues that can occur. Naltrexone affects how opiate antagonists act within your brain, and when you stop taking the medication, you can be highly sensitive to opiate withdrawal sensations. The feelings of physical dependence on alcohol and opioids can spike. If you are using the medication for the treatment of alcohol dependence and stop taking the drug, contacting your sponsor or counselor is advised.

Long Term Side Effects of Naltrexone Abuse

Long term Naltrexone treatment can affect liver function and cause liver damage and liver disease, but both are rare.  Trouble breathing can also occur, but only happens in a small number of individuals.  The therapeutic effects of Naltrexone treatment should be coupled with inpatient or outpatient rehab. A treatment program for the treatment of opioid addiction or the treatment of alcohol abuse that includes Naltrexone can be part of an overall addiction recovery plan.

Naltrexone Addiction Treatment

Drug abusers who use prescription products like synthetic opioids or alcohol for recreational use and want to begin recovery should consider a course of action to start Naltrexone. Call your doctor or drug abuse counselor to find out more about how Naltrexone HCL can help with your alcohol or opioid dependence. If you are dependent on opioids or alcohol, Naltrexone HCL can help with blocking the effects of these substances that cause you to crave using or drinking more.

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