Naltrexone for Alcoholism
Getting addicted to alcohol can be dangerous.
Seeking help and having the right treatment
is a must.
Naltrexone was initially used for the treatment of opioid addiction, including heroin treatment. It worked effectively because Naltrexone could block the pleasurable sensations caused by opioids, meaning addicted individuals had less motivation to continue drug abuse.
Later on, it was discovered that Naltrexone had the same effect for alcoholics. This medication could suppress the euphoria and pleasurable sensations of alcohol. This means alcoholic people no longer received a “reward” for drinking once they have taken Naltrexone. With the help of this drug, they became less likely to continue consumption.
Naltrexone has a lengthy history of success treating alcoholism. However, it is important to note that Naltrexone alone is not sufficient. It does not reduce the cravings for alcohol, and it cannot reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Instead, Naltrexone should be taken as a part of a proper treatment program that includes medications, therapy, counseling, and 12-step programs.
Naltrexone has proven especially useful for the treatment of people who have already been to rehab but relapsed.
How Naltrexone is used
As a prescription medication, Naltrexone should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. Because of certain side effects, this medication should only be prescribed after the physician has made sure that the patient’s liver is functioning properly and the patient is not pregnant.
A single Naltrexone tablet is generally taken once a day. It can be taken with or without food. It may also be taken once every other day, once every third day, or once every day except Sunday. If a patient forgets to take a dose and it is not close to the time of their next dose, they should take it as soon as possible. Patients should skip the dose if they forgot to take it and it is almost time for their next dose. Naltrexone dosage should not be doubled to try and make up for the missed dose.
While Naltrexone is not known to interact aversely with alcohol, it should only be prescribed after the patient has already ceased use completely and completed the detox process.
In some cases, Naltrexone is prescribed for a short period of time. However, research suggests that long term use of more than three months is the most effective for alcoholics in recovery. Because Naltrexone is considered a comparatively safe medication, treatment may be indefinite, depending on the physician’s recommendations.
Patients taking Naltrexone should refrain from using opioids as the medication may interact with them. Patients should also inform their physician about medications they are taking other than Naltrexone.
Naltrexone Side Effects
At high doses, Naltrexone may cause liver damage because it is absorbed by the body through the liver. Because of its lengthy history of use, Naltrexone and its side effects are well documented. The reason it has remained such a popular choice for alcohol treatment is because it is a comparatively safe medication with few and mild side effects.
Common side effects of this medication include: insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, headaches, rashes, dizziness, tiredness, abdominal pain, aches, chills, and constipation. Some people experience increased or decreased energy after taking Naltrexone.
Some of Naltrexone’s side effects are serious, but rare: liver toxicity, liver failure, hallucinations, hypersensitivity to the drug, and suicidal thoughts. To avoid these side effects, the patient should be monitored closely after taking Naltrexone.
Naltrexone’s side effects are fewer and less severe compared to alternative treatment medications. More importantly, it can effectively reduce a person’s motivation to drink. This is especially beneficial for alcoholics who are in recovery and are at risk of relapse. It eliminates the pleasurable effects of drinking, but it does not remove the impairment effects. This makes drinking a purely negative experience, which discourages drinking.
Used properly, Naltrexone can improve the outcome of other treatment methods such as therapy and counseling. This is what makes Naltrexone a critical part of many alcoholism treatment programs.
If someone in the family is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against substance abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
Rehab is Your Best Chance
Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.