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Naltrexone is the generic form of the brand name drug Vivitrol. You may know it as the substance that prevents people from abusing opioids. It is recognized in the medical industry because of its safety profile. But while it really does help people who are addicted to alcohol and opioids, you may not know about the fact that naltrexone has its own set of side effects.
If you know someone who is addicted to opioid painkillers and other prescription medications such as Norco, or OxyContin, or Codeine, you might hear that their doctor prescribed them with naltrexone. In that case, you will want to know the potential side effects of this substance. Don’t worry: the drug is still mostly safe. But it still pays to know what to look out for when taking medications like this.
Naltrexone Overview: What You Need to Know
Naltrexone is most effective when it is used as a part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. You can’t rely on this alone. A person who wants to get over their addictive habits will need to go through lifestyle changes, counseling, and therapy. They will have to receive emotional support to help them get through the challenges of getting sober again.
This drug was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010. It is now classified as one of the opiate antagonists. Like other drugs in that class, naltrexone works by blocking the effects of narcotic drugs.
Naltrexone attaches to the same receptors that opioids normally bind to, thereby blocking the euphoric effects caused by painkillers and alcoholic drinks. It is available as a tablet and an injection.
If taken at home, the substance is usually taken once a day either with or without food. Your doctor will give you instructions—make sure you follow the prescription carefully. Do not take larger doses of naltrexone. It will not get you high, but you will only put yourself at risk of its side effects.
Other times, naltrexone is administered at a treatment center. It is administered once a day, or every other day—it will depend on the patient’s condition. The typical dose is 50mg a day. But depending on the patient, up to 150mg may be given by the doctor.
To get the most benefit (and to avoid all the risks), take naltrexone exactly as prescribed. Do not take it more often than you are supposed to.
What are the Side Effects?
Naltrexone can help block the effects of alcohol and opioids. However, if you’ve only recently stopped taking opioids, you will go into withdrawal. This is why naltrexone has to be prescribed by a doctor. This way the patient knows exactly how and when to take it.
Common side effects of naltrexone include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, stomach pain, drowsiness, muscle pain, and rashes. Contact your doctor if any of these side effects become severe. Also talk to your doctor immediately if the side effects don’t seem to go away.
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In rare cases, naltrexone can cause some serious side effects. This includes hallucinations, confusion, blurred vision, breathing troubles, allergic reactions, and severe vomiting.
Naltrexone has potential side effects, just like any other substance. This does not take away from its effectiveness, especially since it helps many people overcome their addiction. Use it properly in order to get the best results.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from addiction, look for a drug treatment facility near you today!