Naltrexone, known for its efficacy in treating opioid use disorder, has also been sanctioned by the FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) for combating alcoholism. Over the past two decades, naltrexone has proven to be a valuable asset in the treatment of alcohol use disorders (the clinical term for alcoholism).
Naltrexone is a medication designed to decrease your craving for alcohol as you work toward discontinuation. While naltrexone can assist you in maintaining sobriety over an extended period, it is not a definitive solution for alcoholism. Your doctor may prescribe naltrexone as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which they will discuss with you in detail.
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Alcohol Addiction and Naltrexone
Does naltrexone help with alcohol addiction, then? Naltrexone was originally indicated for the treatment of opioid addiction, including heroin dependency. Individuals undergoing naltrexone treatment ceased experiencing the pleasurable feelings triggered by opioid use, reducing their motivation to continue substance abuse. Similarly, naltrexone for alcohol addiction works on the brain much like opioids, suppressing the euphoric and pleasurable effects of alcohol consumption.
That said, naltrexone is not a standalone solution and is more effective when used in conjunction with other treatments, such as counseling, therapy, other medications, and participation in support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or SMART Recovery. Naltrexone is especially valuable in helping people who have experienced relapses during the course of their treatment.
Although naltrexone is generally considered safe, take the medication only under the close supervision of a healthcare professional. Anyone with pre-existing liver damage or those who are pregnant should not use naltrexone. The medication may interact with certain opioids, so be open with your healthcare provider about any other medications you are currently taking. The standard dosage is a single tablet per day, either with or without food. Do not double up on missed doses.
How Is Naltrexone Used for Alcohol Addiction?
Naltrexone plays a crucial role in the early stages of recovery in many alcohol treatment centers. Its mechanism of action involves the blocking of the body’s receptors responsible for triggering the euphoric sensations typically associated with alcohol consumption.
When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it stimulates the release of endorphins, leading to a sense of relaxation and happiness. This process often creates a cycle of dependence, as individuals turn to alcohol to experience these positive feelings. However, the use of naltrexone can help interrupt this cycle.
Naltrexone is non-addictive and non-narcotic, mitigating the risk of dependence or addictive tendencies. Even in the case of relapse, the medication prevents people from experiencing the same enjoyable state that was previously linked to alcohol consumption. Over time, this helps to dissociate alcohol from feelings of happiness, so facilitating abstinence in the recovery process.
Naltrexone is available in various forms, including tablets, injectables, and implants. The tablet form, marketed as ReVia and Depade, is taken once daily. Injectable naltrexone, sold as Vivitrol, is administered into the muscle once a month, removing the potential barrier of daily dosing. Implants slowly dispense the medication into the body over approximately eight weeks. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable form based on individual circumstances.
Side Effects of Naltrexone
A highly effective medication for alcohol addiction, naltrexone is a well-established treatment option with extensively studied side effects. Its widespread use is due in part to its reputation as a safe medication with relatively mild and infrequent adverse effects. Nevertheless, it is essential to carefully monitor some of the potential side effects associated with naltrexone. These may include:
- Changes in energy levels
- Abdominal pain
Although rare, some severe side effects of Naltrexone can include:
- Blurred vision
- Swelling in hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Liver failure
- Suicidal thoughts
Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at California Detox
After a week or so of detoxification with access to medications and continuous care, you will address the issue of alcohol dependence and move into ongoing inpatient treatment.
Residential rehab at our luxury beachside treatment facility provides a structured and immersive environment for whole-body recovery from alcoholism. You can expect personalized care that includes the following therapies:
- Holistic therapies
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Aftercare support
When you are ready to live unconstrained by alcohol addiction, detox safely and comfortably by calling 949.694.8305.