Naltrexone is a medication that helps people stop taking opioids or drinking alcohol. The opioid epidemic in the U.S. is the worst drug crisis the country has ever seen. The overdoses that are happening with opioids are the leading cause of death for people under 50 years old in the U.S.
Last year, opioids killed nearly 64,000 Americans.
It is one of the drugs that was developed to help people recover from an opioid addiction. It also works to aid those who are looking to abstain from alcohol abuse. It is capable of blocking opioids as well as alcohol effects. The brand names are Revia and Vivitrol and are used specifically to treat dependence of alcohol and opioids. With so many people abusing alcohol and opioids, it’s important to have a drug that offers a different way to recover from addiction.
Naltrexone puts people on a different path to recovery that is easier to manage.
Medication assisted treatment is one way to help struggling addicts and alcoholics achieve the sobriety they seek. Using medications like naltrexone or suboxone to help with drug and alcohol addiction is one way to start the path to recovery.
What is naltrexone, though and what kinds of addictions can it treat? What forms does it come in? Can you get high on naltrexoneusing it? What are some side effects of naltrexone?
There are many questions surrounding medication assistedmedication-assisted treatment as there is a lot of misunderstanding. This post aims to help you find out how naltrexone treatment for addiction and alcoholism can help.
What Drugs Does it Treat?
Naltrexone will treat all types of opioid addictions. This includes illegal drugs like heroin or fentanyl. Fentanyl is a dangerous synthetic opioid that is said to be 100 times stronger than heroin. There are pain relievers available that are opiate based also. This includes OxyContin, Vicodin, Codeine, and Morphine. It also blocks the effects of alcohol.
Naltrexone: What is It and What Does it Treat?
Naltrexone isIt’s a medication used to help alcoholics and addicts in early recovery. It will prevent people who have an addiction to certain drugs like opiates from taking them again. It should be a used as part of a total treatment program for total effectiveness. It is a drug known as an antagonist, meaning it blocks or reduces the body’s ability to feel the effects of drugs and alcohol. By reducing or potentially removing the desire to use both drugs and alcohol, naltrexone is helpful for those who are just starting to get sober.
It’s important to understand that naltrexone doesn’t treat withdrawal symptoms. It merely suppresses cravings for alcohol or opioids. Withdrawal symptoms may occur for those who have moderate or severe disorders. This is especially true for someone who drinks alcohol. It can be dangerous to stop drinking even if an alcoholic doesn’t want to drink. This is due to the potential of seizures. The medication won’t prevent this from occurring.
Naltrexone use in recovering opiate and opioid addicts is particularly beneficial because of its opioid-blocking effects. It eliminates the pain relief and euphoria induced by opiate and opioid medications by blocking opioid receptors in the brain.
It belongs to a class of drug, opiate antagonists. It will work in the brain to prevent any sort of opiate effect. It also prevents the good feeling of being intoxicated when drinking. When doctors use naltrexone these medications to block the effects of opiates and opioids, they hope to reduce the chance of relapse in these recovering addicts. The naltrexoneIt helps reduce the feeling that the addict “must” use the medication in order to feel okay.
Doctors also use naltrexone it in recovering alcoholics as it helps to reduce the desire and cravings to drink alcohol. While there is no guarantee, medications like naltrexone may even help alcoholics stop drinking altogether. It certainly helps them manage the lack of the substance better in their life, giving them a fighting chance to recover successfully.
How to Take Naltrexone
Naltrexone It comes in three different methods of distribution, or ways to take the medication:
- Pills (orally ingested)
Your doctor will determine the best way for you to take your naltrexone medication. There is no right or wrong form of naltrexone to take. One particular form will not keep you “more sober” than another. They all function similarly and work as long as you put in the work as well.
Pills are likely the most difficult method to use as you have to remember to take your pill as prescribed every day. If you miss a dose, there are both internal and external consequences. After going for some time without your naltrexone once your body is used to it, you begin to seek out the drugs and alcohol you thought were out of the picture.
Naltrexone iInjections are a better option than pills if they are available. Rather than remembering to take a pill every day, with naltrexone the injections, the only thing you’ll only need to remember is the day you setup your doctor’s appointment to get your shot. This can ensure a greater success rate.
Still, implants, although still in early research phases, are the best way to “set it and forget it” when it comes to medication assisted treatment.
How Long Does Naltrexone Block Opioids
Naltrexone blocks opioids for about 24 hours. Vivitrol is a slow-release injectable that lasts one month. When taking the pill form of the drug, it will need to be taken once a day. It is in urine from 1 – 6 hours. It is in blood and saliva for up to 24 hours.
What is the Sinclair Method?
A man named Dr. David Sinclair created a method that has been effective for some when abstaining from alcohol. Research has found that naltrexone can reduce alcohol intake. This method doesn’t promote abstinence from drinking. Most people will continue drinking while on the drug with no dangerous effects.
The method involves taking the medication an hour before drinking. There is no experience of feeling buzzed. There is a sense of dizziness but the euphoric effect doesn’t occur. It’s not fulfilling or enjoyable so the brain stops perceiving drinking as a reward.
Opioids blockers stops the endorphins from causing effects on your brain. The body will slowly detox. Cravings for alcohol subside. On the first dosage of medication, patients say they noticed they didn’t have the cravings that once existed. A research study has found that this method results in a noticeable reduction for alcohol cravings.
Should Naltrexone Implants Be More Widely Used?
Naltrexone implants are a helpful way to ensure your body is fully-stockedfully stocked on medication at all times. There is still limited research surrounding the naltrexone implant the implants. , researchers will likely see incredible benefits from it.
Like birth control, naltrexone it is only effective as long as you keep a continuous supply in your body. When you remove the naltrexone from the equation and don’t have the proper coping skills to handle life, the chances of relapse are high.
Naltrexone iThe implants keep the flow of medication in the body consistent and steady. When used in combination with another form of addiction treatment, implants provide a great chance to set up a solid foundation for long-term sobriety.
Common Doses of Naltrexone and How Much You Should Be Taking
It is impossible to prescribe a medication through a blog post. Only your doctor should provide you with naltrexone this medication, as they know your health history and can make the most educated and informed decision on your care.
However, naltrexone the 50mg version tends to be an incredibly common dose of the medication. Naltrexone 50mg of naltrexone, provides a consistent flow of medication without encouraging patients to rely too heavily upon it. It is the best way to start naltrexone treatment.
Other doses include 100mg and 150mg, but naltrexone the 50mg dosage is the most common dose for naltrexone or vivitrol. Your doctor will determine whether this is a good course of action for your situation.
Best Way to Use Naltrexone for Addiction Recovery
When used on its own, naltrexone it is a helpful medication that keeps thousands of addicts and alcoholics away from their drugs of choice. However, the most effective way to take naltrexone is to use it in combination with other forms of treatment. This includes treatment that addresses the psychological part of addiction.
You must make sure your body is entirely clear and clean of opiates or opioids before starting naltrexone this form of treatment. A urine test will usually be conducted to ensure that opiates haven’t been taken recently. One should abstain from taking opiates for at least a week. Opiate drugs like methadone should be stopped for 10 to 14 days.
A urine test should be done to check for recent opiate drug use. Your doctor may give you another medication (naloxone challenge test) to check for opiate use. Do not use any opiates for at least 7 days before starting naltrexone. You may need to stop certain opiate drugs (such as methadone) 10 to 14 days before starting naltrexone.
Naltrexone either significantly reduces the desire to drink or eliminates the want for it entirely. Still, if you don’t have any coping skills in place to fight the temptation to get loaded, you will undoubtedly get drunk or high. People will report feeling depressed because they aren’t getting the high they need to cope with life. This is where the likes of behavioral therapy come in.
Addicts need to investigate the deeper reasons they began abusing substances in the first place.
Why Naltrexone and Addiction Treatment Go Together
Typically, once your doctor prescribes you naltrexone the drug, you should attend some form of addiction treatment or therapy. There are a few helpful options you can utilize while in active medication-assisted treatment. Studies have found that the combination of naltrexone with behavior therapy would be the best strategy for any disorder. This includes alcohol and opioid dependence.
For example, naltrexone doesn’t offer pharmacological reward. The patient doesn’t experience any high or feelings that come with their substance of choice. This is where something like contingency management (CM) could come in. Offering incentives for not using the substance, along with encouragement to keep on going fills the gap within the full recovery process.
Naltrexone It works well for the drug and alcohol counseling as well as the intensive outpatient program options. By keeping dosages low, around 50mg of naltrexone, doctors are able to better monitor and manage patients while they are outside of the facility.
Types of Therapy for Recovery
As part of the overall treatment plan, behavioral therapy should be incorporated. This is an umbrella term for various types of therapy that treat mental health disorders. It identifies and helps to change self-destructive and unhealthy behaviors. The premise behind the therapy is that all behaviors are learned and those that are unhealthy can be changed.
Firstly, it’s important that there is a detox phase which should be completed 7-10 days before naltrexone is administered. With opioids, it’s important that naltrexone is just part of a comprehensive management program. Psychosocial support is primarily advised. This is therapy that meets an addicts social, mental, and spiritual needs. Social support through group therapy can be helpful for someone recovering from opioids.
Mental support can come through behavioral therapy where a person learns more about why they used in the first place. When someone goes through trauma, which often goes hand in hand with any addiction, spirituality may be a helpful avenue. To believe that there is a higher power helping us through hard times has been a lifeline for many addicts. This is why the likes of Alcoholics Anonymous have built their foundation of beliefs on spirituality.
When used as an alcohol addiction treatment, it can block the euphoric effects of feeling drunk.
Drinking behaviors will reduce and it’s likely that the person will stay motivated in treatment. There is no adverse reaction with alcohol so one can still drink. The problem is, many will use the feelings of alcohol as a means of numbing themselves.
Getting to the bottom of why a person became an alcoholic is just as important as the abstinence itself. Naltrexone is often recommended to be used for three months to help people recover from alcohol addiction. During this time, behavioral treatments should be administered.
This focuses on changing the drinking behavior through counseling. This would be done through addiction specialists. Mutual support meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous provide support for alcoholics.
Can You Overdose on Naltrexone
The answer to this is both yes and no. You won’t overdose from taking naltrexone but you there is a risk of overdosing on opioids or alcohol. Alcohol poisoning and opioid overdose is possible. If you were able to feel the effects of opioids or alcohol, you’d have a good gauge as to when you should stop taking more. Also, for someone who is in medication-assisted recovery, their tolerance has likely lowered. This is a major cause for overdose.
Naltrexone overdose symptoms can happen when you:
- Attempt to overcome the efficacy of this medication by taking a lot of opioids or alcohol.
- Taking more than the prescribed dosage.
- Injecting extended-release naltrexone into your blood via veins, gluteal muscles, or buttocks.
Overdose symptoms will include:
- Stomach ache.
Side Effects of Naltrexone: Is It Worth It?
The potential naltrexone side effects exist just like with any other medication. Usually the side effects are experienced only by a minimal number of people but it’s still worth it to know what could potentially occur while using naltrexoneit.
Side effects include:
- Abdominal or stomach cramping or pain (may be mild or moderate cramps or pain)
- Anxiety, nervousness, or restlessness
- Difficulties sleeping
- Pain in joints or muscles
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abnormal tiredness, sleepiness, or exhaustion
- Cough, sore throat, or hoarseness
- Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or sinus problems
- Fast, pounding, or abnormal heart beat
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulties in sexual arousal in males
Not every side effect will occur in every person and some may not experience any side effects at all. There is no guarantee on what you will experience while taking naltrexone it but it is good to be prepared.
What is Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and what is it used for?
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is typically a much smaller dosage (typically 4.5 mg) and it used in the treatment of cancer, autoimmune disorders and other ailments. LDN is NOT meant to treat any type of addiction as the dose is not high enough. LDN is not an FDA approved treatment at this time and therefore is not covered by most insurance. It is rather filled by a compounding pharmacy since Naltrexone does not come in low doses from the pharmaceutical companies.
Using Naltrexone for Weight Loss Use
While not an “official” side effect, many individuals on naltrexone report experiencing weight loss. Because of this, some doctors may prescribe it as a medication to help control weight. These observations are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration but are simply noticed through observation.
It is a good idea to monitor your weight while on naltrexone to ensure you don’t lose an unhealthy amount of weight. While some weight loss might be expected, losing excessive amounts of weight in a short period of time is not good for your body. Your doctor will monitor these things as well.
What is the Difference Between Naltrexone and Naloxone?
Naltrexone and naloxone may sound like similar medications but are actually used in very different circumstances. Though both directly affect individuals who use opiates and opioids, they are helpful in different circumstances.
Naltrexone is used to help addicts and alcoholics in recovery who are trying to avoid using drugs and alcohol. Naltrexone use include blocking the effects of opiates and opioids as well as reducing cravings for both drugs and alcohol.
Another type of medication used to help those with opiate and opioid problems is naloxone, but it is used in an entirely different situation. Naloxone is a medication that reduces the effects of an opioid or opiate overdose.
Often you will see emergency response crews such as EMTs on ambulances as well as fire departments carrying naloxone doses on their vehicles with them. It should not be used as an alternative to finding treatment but as a supplement to keep the individual relatively stable while transporting them to the emergency room or hospital.
Comparing Naltrexone to Other Addiction Related Medications
When comparing vivitrol to Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone), there are a few distinct differences. The buprenorphine in the drug is an opiate but offers a very limited effect compared to other drugs in it’s family. It is designed to prevent the terrible withdrawal symptoms that come with heroin. Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, is the other working ingredient. It blocks effects of opioids as well as reverses an overdose.
Naltrexone is used to treat opioid and alcohol dependence. It can’t be used with alcohol or opioids. Suboxone treats opioid addiction. It effectively reduces cravings and treats dependence to opioids. It is usually used for those who are addicted to heroin or other short-acting opioids.
With Suboxone, a physician will adjust doses to a level that controls withdrawal symptoms. It has few side effects and drug interactions than other drugs like it. It’s not effective for those dependent on long-acting opioids or methadone. There is a risk of overdosing that isn’t there when taking naltrexone. It is a film form which is put into the mouth. When dissolving the film in the mouth, it can cause a painful burning in the mouth.
Buprenorphine is a “partial opioid agonist”. It offers a milder effect than “full opioid agonists” like heroin. It fills up the brain’s opioid receptors, preventing withdrawal but doesn’t offer the same high. It can’t be taken to achieve the full effect of stronger opioids. This makes it difficult to abuse. Naltrexone differs because it is not an opioid. It blocks the effects completely. It is a safer alternative to tapering off drugs like heroin than methadone.
Methadone and naltrexone represent two very different types of addiction therapy. Methadone is a cheaper method for getting off stronger opioids like heroin. Doctors will have to spend time getting the dose correct. If there’s not enough methadone in the system, withdrawal symptoms may cause discomfort. It there’s too much, it could cause health risks. Methadone is not self-administered so an addict will have to go to a clinic daily if they’re not detox at an inpatient treatment clinic.
Naltrexone isn’t the same kind of treatment. Methadone is part of a tapering program where one is slowly weaned off opioids; naltrexone blocks the effects that make taking drugs pleasurable. Naltrexone is a safer method but may not work for some.
Can You Get High on Naltrexone?
Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates so it isn’t possible to experience a naltrexone high. In fact, it functions to do the opposite. If you’re still seeking a high, looking for a high on naltrexone this drug is not the place to go.
The best time to start naltrexone it is when you are completely ready to get sober. You will have the best results if you have no qualms about getting sober. Once you are ready to quit drugs and alcohol entirely, you will have significantly better results from medication assisted addiction treatment with naltrexone. It is a useful option for those who are ready to truly heal parts of themselves, change their lives, and change their behaviors.
Drug and Alcohol Counseling or Therapy
Both therapy and drug and alcohol counseling take place one-on-one with a therapist. Some counselors involve the use of group therapy but counseling mainly implies a singular experience. You are often educated on what addiction really is. This is because the stigma of addiction in society can cause people to see themselves in an incorrect light. Also, counselors are going to get to know you enough to see what is the best type of therapy for your individual needs.
During counseling or therapy, you and your therapist work together to address issues specific to you, your recovery, and how you navigate sobriety in your everyday life. When you combine individual therapy with the reduction of cravings provided by the use of naltrexone, you end up with a helpful, well-rounded treatment program.
Some addicts benefit from a more intensive approach to recovery. For those who need it, inpatient rehab is a great option. In inpatient rehab, addicts and alcoholics have supervision around the clock either from nurses or trained staff members. They receive the support for weak moments when they need it. With inpatient rehabilitation, people will get the proper nutrition necessary to help the mind and body recover quickly. Being immersed in recovery gives a patient hope that they can and will overcome their addiction.
If you fear relapse to be inevitable, even with naltrexone in your system the help of naltrexone, you might benefit from attending inpatient rehab. Being supervised and supported through the hardest part of addiction recovery greatly improves your chances. You find the positive aspects to life and remember why sobriety is more important than feeding the addiction. You’ll attend individual and group therapy sessions as well as educational lectures. You will learn the coping skills and relapse prevention methods necessary to stay sober long term.
Intensive Outpatient Program
An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is somewhere in between drug and alcohol counseling and inpatient rehab. IOP still takes place on a more intensive basis with up to 10 hours of programs per week but still allows you to go home at the end of the day.
If an hour or two per week in drug and alcohol counseling isn’t enough treatment, IOP is a good option. It’s significantly less than inpatient rehab and you can still go about your day to day responsibilities. but you can’t afford the cost of inpatient rehab, an IOP will likely be a helpful middle-ground for you. Much like inpatient rehab, IOP teaches relapse prevention methods and coping skills to aid in achieving long term sobriety.
Promising Future with Medication-Assisted Therapy
With so many Americans dying from opioid overdose, these are scary times. With the country going through a major crisis when it comes to opioids, it’s promising that we can create medicine that helps people recover. Alcohol abuse is another prevalent issue in the U.S. When we’re able to address all issues that are attached to alcohol or opioid addiction, it’s promising.
Drugs like this make it easier for people to abstain and rebuild their life. The cycle of addiction stops because there is no reward and no possibility of becoming addicted to naltrexone.
It’s not always easy for addicts to leave their substance of choice behind. There are many reasons why people can’t stop. When we have drugs that can help them stop, along with holistic therapies, there is a greater chance they can abstain.
When an addict takes naltrexone for their addiction to opioids or alcohol, there are very few risks. The void of euphoria that comes from taking certain drugs or alcohol can be beneficial but can also make users feel depressed. This is why support is also important. Whether used during inpatient treatment, or on their own, it has shown a lot of promise to stave off cravings.
There is no miracle pill for addiction but Naltrexone is showing great promise.
Revia and Vivitrol (both Naltrexone) are amazing supports to conquer addiction and best of all they are non-addictive and safe. New studies suggest that Vivitrol is just as effective as
Suboxone and other ORT’s (opioid replacement therapies). This might be one medication worth giving a try when an addict has the right intentions going into treatment.
Do you think Naltrexone is the best option for getting past addiction? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to leave a comment below.