Naltrexone (Oral)

By blocking the effects of most narcotics, Naltrexone works to help people overcome their addictions.

Overview

In cases of alcoholism and a narcotic addiction, Naltrexone is used to decrease the desire for opioids/alcohol. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the effects of any taken alcohol/narcotic. In other words, this medication works by blocking the 'high'. While this drug will not completely stop the person from getting drunk, it does take many of the positive effects away. This can help an addicted person's cravings and stop them from seeking out narcotics/alcohol.

In cases of alcoholism, this drug can reduce the amount the patient drinks, how often they drink, and how much they depend on alcohol as a whole. It is most often taken via the oral route and is taken daily before the person usually begins drinking. It may not stop them from drinking, but it removes the positive reinforcement they receive from becoming drunk.

When used in patients with a narcotics addiction, this drug can be taken via injection or by mouth. By mouth, this drug must be taken daily and is usually prescribed if the person already has a support group and supplemental therapy. Otherwise, this drug may not be as effective and injections may be required. However, for many people already on the path to recovery, Naltrexone oral is a popular medication.

This prescription must start after the detox process. Otherwise, the drug may not work as effectively. This medication does not cure alcoholism or narcotics dependence, it can only help the person along the way. Do not recommend this drug to anyone who is still actively refusing treatment. Rehabilitation requires effort on both ends, on behalf of the patient and the doctor. If the patient refuses to cooperate, this drug will have little to no positive effect. Therapy, group sessions, intervention and other forms of rehab are recommended.

Naltrexone oral comes in tablet form and should be taken daily. Dosages may change depending on your treatment plan, age, weight, condition, and what you are being treated for. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you think you may require Naltrexone. This drug is a valuable choice for anyone suffering from dependency issues, and it can help the person stay on the road to recovery. By lowering the person's desires for alcohol or narcotics, they can make better decisions about their own health.

If you know someone who may require a Naltrexone prescription, make sure to suggest it to them personally. Recommend therapy sessions and group meetings as well, and try to support them. Make sure to approach the topic delicately, and do not try to shove medications or treatments onto them. A successful recovery begins with a willing participant, so try to make the person feel comfortable with the idea. Once they have spoken to their doctor and received a prescription, check up on them regularly to make sure they are well. Emotional support can encourage them to better themselves.

Conditions Treated

  • Alcoholism
  • Narcotic dependence

Type Of Medication

  • Opioid antagonist

Side Effects

This drug may cause additional side effects, some of which may be unpleasant. This is normal, and these side effects should lessen or disappear over time. Your body may need some time to adjust to the drug, so keep taking it and cope with the side effects the best you can. If they persist or begin to interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor. They may be able to suggest additional medications or solutions.

Many people who take Naltrexone for narcotic addiction may experience mild withdrawal symptoms after taking this drug. This is normal, but call your doctor if they occur suddenly and begin to feel severe. Withdrawal symptoms can include a runny nose, cramps, restlessness and muscle pain. Do not start this drug if you are still experiencing normal withdrawal symptoms. Beginning your Naltrexone treatment while you are still detoxing may just exacerbate your symptoms.

You may experience mild side effects after beginning this drug. These are harmless and mostly mild, and not everyone experiences them after taking Naltrexone.

Common side effects include:

These side effects are normal and do not require medical attention. However, some side effects may be a sign that you need medical attention. Usually, these symptoms relate back to an allergy. If you are allergic to any of the active or inactive ingredients in Naltrexone, be sure to mention this to your doctor before beginning your treatment. This includes any dyes or other ingredients used in the tablets.

Even if you do not have any recorded allergies to Naltrexone or its ingredients, make sure to monitor yourself for allergy symptoms during your first few doses. If you have never taken this drug before, be sure to note any unusual or troubling side effects and mention them to your doctor. If there is an issue, it is best to recognize it early.

Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Skin rash
  • Blistering
  • Unexplained fever
  • Stomach upset
  • Swelling of the mouth/face/tongue
  • Itching of the mouth/face/tongue
  • Closing of the throat/airways
  • Trouble breathing

An allergic reaction can become severe if left untreated. If allergy symptoms occur, be sure to call your doctor and stop taking Naltrexone immediately. If you believe your life is in danger, contact medical help immediately.

Most people who take Naltrexone do not experience any unusual side effects while taking this drug. However, if you or your family members have had negative experiences on this medication, mention them to your doctor before beginning any Naltrexone prescription. This list is not exhaustive, and you may experience side effects that are not listed here. Contact your doctor if anything unusual or troubling occurs, and talk to them if you have any further questions about what you might experience while taking this drug.

Dosage

Depending on your condition and what you are being treated for, your Naltrexone dose may change over time. Make sure to take the doses your doctor recommends to you, and do not increase or decrease your dosage without their approval. Overdose can be fatal, and under-dosing yourself can lead to medication failure and relapse. Your doctor may begin you on a smaller dose to monitor your progress on this drug, and then raise the dose once they know its safe.

This drug is most often taken orally. You should take it with a large glass of water, but you can also take it with food if you have a sensitive stomach. Once you have taken this drug, resume your normal schedule. You may experience side effects, but they should be mild and easy solved.

The regular dosage for alcoholism is 50mg daily, taken before the person regularly begins drinking. This dose may change over time, and your doctor may start you on a smaller dose to make sure you have no allergies or adverse reactions to the drug. This drug will not cure existing inebriation, so do not take it when you are already drunk.

The dose for narcotics addiction can change depending on the patient. While some patients may react well to the daily dosage, some may require special dosing plans to encourage compliance. These dosing plans usually add up to 350mg per week. The dosage schedules are as follows:

  • 50mg per day. (One tablet daily.)
  • 50mg per day on weekdays, and 100mg on weekends. (One tablet on weekdays, two on weekends.)
  • 100mg every other day. (two tablets every other day.)
  • 150mg every three days. (three tablets every three days.)

This drug can be taken with antacids if stomach upset occurs. To test your reaction, your first dose may be split up into two 25mg parts. If you react negatively, they may prescribe a different medication. This drug is not recommended for any patients under the age of 18, and child doses are not listed. If a child or teenager requires this medication, their dosage must be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Try to take this drug at the same time every time to establish a schedule. Set alarms if necessary, and mark the days you have to take Naltrexone on your calendar. If you miss a dose, try to take it as soon as you remember or skip the dose entirely. Avoid missing doses if possible, and make sure to pack this medication if you have to go on a trip.

Interactions

This drug may interact with other medications you are currently taking. This includes off-label medications, street drugs, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications. Make sure to inform your doctor of all your medications, and keep a list of any drugs you have taken in the past 10-14 days. Your doctor may ask that you switch or stop certain drugs while taking Naltrexone.

Be sure to inform your doctor if you begin drinking or taking narcotics while using this drug. You may react differently to them, and your treatment plan may need to be adjusted.

Interactions to Naltrexone can include:

  • Opioids such as: Fentanyl, OxyContin, Vicodin and others
  • Narcotics such as Hydrocodone, Codeine, and others
  • Any form of methadone or buprenorphine
  • Diarrhea medications
  • Cough medications
  • Thioridazine
  • Disulfiram

Talk to your doctor if you are currently taking any of these medications. If you need to take any of these drugs while taking Naltrexone, inform your doctor and ask for directions. Do not start or stop any prescriptions without their approval. This list is not exhaustive. If you have questions about this drug and any further interactions, make sure to ask your doctor.

Warnings

Talk to your doctor before taking this drug if you have a history of depression or mental illness. You may require treatment and medication for those issues specifically, especially if your addiction is a result of your mental illness. Treating the root of the issue is a good way to help yourself in the long run and avoid re-addiction. Narcotics and alcohol are not a viable form of treatment for depression, and self-medicating with them will only exacerbate your issues. Seek help, and try to find encouragement in family, friends or support groups.

If you require surgery at any point, be sure to mention that you are taking Naltrexone. This drug may interact with any painkillers or narcotics they give you, which can seriously affect the procedure. Try to carry a medical card or ID tag that informs any emergency medical staff that you are taking Naltrexone. This way, they can treat you properly in an emergency situation where you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.

Avoid taking opioids while on Naltrexone. By taking this drug, you are making your body more susceptible to opioid medications. This means a normal dose of these medications can overdose you. Overdoses can quickly become fatal, so if you must take opioids while taking this drug, do so cautiously and make sure to lower the doses accordingly. Only begin your Naltrexone prescription once you are fully detoxed of any previous opioid/narcotics.

Do not drive or operate machinery until you know how Naltrexone affects you. If this drug renders you drowsy, tired or impairs your thinking in other ways, do not drive until the effects have worn off. If this affects your daily life or work schedule, talk to your doctor about the issue.

This drug can harm unborn babies, breastfeeding infants, or children who accidentally take it. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are currently breastfeeding. Keep this drug out of reach and try to lock it away in a cabinet or desk drawer. Do not give this drug unprescribed to children or teenagers, regardless of their condition.

Tell your doctor if you have liver disease or a history of liver problems. That may affect how you process this drug and cause complications. Make sure to get tested regularly and report any signs of liver problems to your doctor.

Your doctor may give you a pamphlet or website to read on this medication. Make sure to go over all the given information, and ask your doctor about anything you don't understand. You should not take Naltrexone blindly, so be sure to know all the potential side effects and warnings before beginning your treatment.

Storage

Make sure to store this medication in the sealed prescription container. Keep it fully closed and locked until it is time for your dose. Keep this bottle out of reach of any children or pets, and make sure it is hidden from any family members or roommates who may want to take it. Store the medication at room temperature, away from heat and light. Heat and light may break down this medication and make it less effective. Do not freeze this drug.

In the event of an overdose, contact poison control or emergency services. Be ready to hand over all prescription information and make sure to tell them when the drug was taken and how much was ingested. Overdose symptoms include loss of consciousness and trouble breathing. Be sure to throw away any excess or expired medication responsibly. Seal the drug in its original container and throw it away normally, or give the leftover medication to a take-back program. These programs are usually hosted by hospitals or pharmacies.

Summary

Naltrexone is a valuable treatment for those suffering from alcoholism or narcotic/opioid addiction. It can make the drugs/alcohol less enticing, and encourage the person towards better habits and medications. Combined with group sessions and proper therapy, this drug can be a useful supplemental for anyone trying to recover. If you or a loved one wishes to rehabilitate themselves and end their addiction, Naltrexone may be the perfect medication.

Talk to your doctor if you think this drug may be right for you. This medication is only available with a doctor prescription, but once you find your proper dose, it can begin working within a few weeks. Side effects are usually mild, and this drug has a higher rate of success than placebo medications. Try to take this drug on time, and be sure to attend any therapy or group sessions. Naltrexone is not a cure-all solution for addiction, and the patient has to be determined in order to recover fully.

With proper support and a steady routine, Naltrexone can help patients recover from their addictions and lead healthier lives.