Naltrexone is a drug that is mainly used for the continued treatment of alcohol and opioid addiction. As it helps differently in each case. For alcoholism, treatment can help satisfy alcohol cravings. In contrast, the drug works to actually thwart the actual effects of opiates on the brain. Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade. A long-acting injectable form is sold under the trade name Vivitrol.
Naltrexone doesn’t treat alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms, but it can help people who have already stopped being drug or alcohol-free.
For people who have stopped drinking, naltrexone reduces the cravings for alcohol that many alcoholic people experience when they stop drinking. It is not fully understood how the drug reduces alcohol cravings, but some scientists believe it decreases the potentiating effects of alcohol on certain nerve pathways in the brain..Naltrexone blocks certain opioid receptors that affect the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Naltrexone also blocks the effects of opiate drugs like heroin in the brain. As part of a class of drugs known as opiate antagonists, naltrexone competes with these drugs for opiate receptors in the brain to prevent the feelings of pleasure that the substances produce...
Research has shown that naltrexone can reduce alcohol and drug cravings in some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Like most pharmaceutical treatments for alcohol and substance abuse, it works best when used in conjunction with a general treatment regimen such as psychosocial therapy, counseling, and / or participation in support groups.
Naltrexone does not “cure” addiction, but it has helped many who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction maintain abstinence by reducing their cravings for alcohol or drugs.
Naltrexone is not prescribed until after you’ve stopped taking opioids for seven to 10 days, as it can cause serious withdrawal symptoms if taken while you are still taking these drugs...
People with acute hepatitis should not take naltrexone..Patients using narcotic pain relievers should not take it. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take naltrexone.
In pill form, naltrexone is usually prescribed once a day. Studies have looked at the use of naltrexone over a 12 week period to help people who have stopped drinking reduce alcohol cravings in the early days of abstinence, when the risk of relapse is greatest, however Doctors can prescribe it used longer. Also, because naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, it is sometimes prescribed for long periods of time for people trying to manage the drug addiction.
In April 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a monthly injectable form of naltrexone (Vivitrol) for the treatment of alcohol addiction. It also has an indication of opioid addiction. Several studies have shown that the monthly injection form of naltrexone is more effective at maintaining abstinence than the pill form by eliminating the drug adherence problem.
Naltrexone can cause upset stomach, nervousness, anxiety, or muscle and joint pain. Usually these symptoms are mild and temporary, but in some people they can be more severe and last longer.
In rare cases, naltrexone causes more serious side effects, including:..
- stomach pain
- skin rash
- Blurred vision
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Naltrexone can potentially cause liver toxicity. You should stop taking naltrexone immediately if you have symptoms like:
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes.
Read the full list of symptoms that came with your prescribing information.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency’s National Helpline (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database