For most people that are addicted to alcohol and opioids, quitting becomes so complicated because they can’t overcome their cravings. They often relapse after beginning their recovery journey, which eventually makes them feel frustrated.
If you are in this category of drug addicts, naltrexone is one treatment medication option that could help you quit taking alcohol or opioids. While it may be effective in many cases, the usage of this drug is not completely without side effects.
However, some may find it better to experience these side effects than reverting back to their addiction.
What is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is a drug that addiction physicians use in the management of opioid and alcohol addiction. If you are an alcohol addict, the treatment helps in quelling your desire to drink. Additionally , it works to thwart opiate effects on the brain. In the pharmacies, naltrexone goes by the names Depade and Revia.
The usage of naltrexone in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction was approved in the mid-1980s by the Food and Drug Association. At the same time, it was found to have some effectiveness in the treatment of cancer patients and infections.
Once a month you can receive the intramuscular injection called Vivitrol. This administration should be done in a Naltrexone physician’s office, which is licensed, by a health professional. This precaution is taken because injectable naltrexone cannot be taken subcutaneously or intravenously.
However, despite being able to stay away from alcohol or opioids with the help of naltrexone, it is still important that you continue with addiction treatment and therapy for your problem. The entire treatment protocol is necessary because naltrexone does not treat the underlying issues behind your drinking or drug problem.
Uses of Naltrexone
Despite being used in the recovery process of alcohol and opioid addicts, naltrexone does not treat the withdrawal symptoms of these drugs. Instead, it helps people that have stopped taking these drugs to remain drug-free.
Naltrexone can never be referred to as a narcotic. However, it is great at blocking actions of certain receptors in the brain. Naturally, there are opiate receptors in your gastrointestinal tract, spine, and brain.
In the brain, there are also the opioid neurotransmitters that occur naturally known as dopamine and serotonin. Naltrexone acts by preventing these neurotransmitters from attaching to the nerve or cell receptors present in your body.
During the treatment of alcohol dependence, naltrexone prevents you from experiencing the pleasurable effects after consuming alcohol. Therefore, you will not get intoxicated at all. Regardless of the alcohol amounts you consume, there is no possibility of overriding the naltrexone effects.
Hence, you will not achieve any high sensation. Eventually, you do not desire to take alcohol at all, or crave for the opioids.
Naltrexone Side Effects
Just like other strong medications, naltrexone has some side effects. The mild and temporary side effects include;
- Muscle and joint pain
- Stomach upset
In rare cases, you may experience some severe and long-lasting side effects. They include:
- Skin rash
- Stomach pain
- Blurred vision
The consultation of a doctor is necessary if the above severe symptoms occur because they could result in accidents. Additionally, consumption of large doses of naltrexone is dangerous, as it can cause liver failure. If the below symptoms are observed, you must stop intake immediately.
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Excessive tiredness
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Dark urine
- Pain the Stomach’s upper right area.
According to research, naltrexone is usually successful in reducing alcohol and opioid cravings. However, it may fail to work for some people. Since it is usually administered during recovery from drug addiction, naltrexone needs to be combined with an overall treatment regime so that it can perform in the best way.
Such treatment regime should include counseling, psychosocial therapy, and support group participation. You must acknowledge that naltrexone does not have the capability to cure addiction. However, it can help you in maintaining sobriety as it reduces your cravings.
The prescription of naltrexone takes place after you have quit taking opioids or alcohol for about seven to ten days. Immediate prescription or a combination is not advisable because it can result in severe withdrawal symptoms.
If you have an opioid or alcohol addiction problem but suffer from kidney or liver disease, or acute hepatitis, you should stay clear of naltrexone. Also, if you consume narcotic painkillers or/ and have an allergy towards it, you must stay away from it. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are also encouraged to avoid naltrexone since it can cause problems for the born and unborn babies.
While the injection is given once a month, the naltrexone pill form is taken once a day. It is mostly prescribed in the early days of abstinence because the risk of relapsing is greatest at this point. Therefore, you may have to consume ii for about 12 weeks or more, depending on the doctor’s diagnosis.
If you are extremely dependent on opioids or alcohol, the prescription will definitely go for longer periods. The FDA approval to use the injectable naltrexone form took place in 2006. According to the study conducted then, the injection is more effective than the pill form.
The explanation behind this is that the injection eliminated the problems related with medication compliance and thus, enables you to maintain abstinence as required.
When you are deep into opioid dependence, you may go through rapid detoxification. This process is controversial as it involves putting you under general anesthesia and surgical placement of a naltrexone implant in your posterior.
After this, you are also instructed to take naltrexone daily doses for twelve months.
In conclusion, naltrexone is a drug that aims to help you to overcome the cravings to consume opioid and alcohol. However, it should not work alone in your recovery process. You need discipline as well because mixing the drug with alcohol or opioids only causes more problems.