What Is Naltrexone?
Brand Names of Naltrexone: Revia and Vivitrol
Drug Class: Opioid Antagonist
How to Use Naltrexone HCL (Revia)
Naltrexone (Revia) is an opioid antagonist drug. Doctors prescribe Naltrexone to reverse and block the effects of endogenous opioids, and it prevents the effects through a process called competitive binding. There are minimum effects besides its blocking properties. This medication is an integral part of the treatment for people who have been suffering from opioid use disorder. When taken correctly, this medication can significantly prevent you from craving opioids which will substantially help during your recovery process – a great prevention tool among many.
This medication is an essential part of drug treatment when used in conjunction with counseling or other mental health support options. However, it should not be taken by people who are currently taking opioids including methadone, fentanyl, or suboxone because of the risk for sudden withdrawal symptoms.”
Naltrexone Risks and Side Effects
Some Potential Risks:
- Patients currently taking opioids should not take Naltrexone, including those on maintenance drugs, like methadone, or partial agonists, such as buprenorphine. Moreover, severe withdrawal syndrome can develop in as little as five minutes after taking a dose and can last for a couple of days. Immediate medical assistance and monitoring are required because symptoms can include confusion, hallucinations, and significant loss of fluids due to intense vomiting and diarrhea.
- It is potentially hazardous for individuals to attempt, on their own, to overcome the Naltrexone blockade by taking large amounts of exogenous opioids. Any attempt by the person to overcome the antagonist may lead to life-threatening intoxication, including respiratory arrest and circulatory collapse or even a fatal overdose. Ultimately, patients should be acutely aware of the severe consequences of overcoming the opioid blockade.
- Patients who recently received treatment with Naltrexone are likely to have a reduced tolerance to opioids. They may also have a quicker and stronger response to lower doses of opioids than before taking Naltrexone, similarly to after completing detoxification. If the patient tries using previously tolerated opioid doses, it could result in an overdose.
Naltrexone Side Effects:
Naltrexone may also cause unwanted symptoms or side effects along with its intended effects. Although most people tolerate an adequate dose, some effects may occur. Please call your prescribing physician or seek medical attention if they do happen. Before starting this therapy, patients should provide their prescribing physician with a comprehensive medical history and a complete list of current medications (including over-the-counter drugs). Additionally, narcotics, diarrhea medications, disulfiram, and cough medication can adversely interact with Naltrexone.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking Naltrexone:
For example, common naltrexone side effects are:
- abdominal cramping (mild to moderate)
- trouble sleeping
- muscle pain
- nausea or vomiting
Less Common Side Effects:
- hoarseness or a sore throat
- sinus problems
- runny nose
- rapid heartbeat
- unusual thirst
- loss of appetite
- sexual issues in males
Discuss the risks and benefits of Naltrexone treatment with your doctor. Consider stopping using this medication and tell your doctor right away if you develop severe naltrexone side effects. These symptoms may include persistent nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and yellowing of eyes or skin, and these signs could indicate rare liver issues.
Allergic reaction to this drug is rare; however, if you notice any symptoms such as a rash, itching or swelling (especially the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing, and getting emergency medical help right away.
The information above is NOT a complete list of possible risks and side effects and should NOT be used for medical decisions. contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other symptoms that are not listed above, or would like additional information.
Is Naltrexone the same as Suboxone and Methadone?
Absolutely not. Naltrexone is not an opioid drug and for that reason, it is not addictive and does not cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication. Now, Suboxone and Methadone are both opioid narcotics with a high affinity to the receptors and extremely addictive drugs. Although there is Naltrexone within the Suboxone, the active addictive ingredient is the opiate and not the antagonist.
Naltrexone Treatment Benefits
If you are seeking a rehabilitation center for you or a loved one, consider the safety and effectiveness of the detoxification and the benefits of a naltrexone treatment program.
Naltrexone has the ability to assist significantly in reducing physical cravings for opioid drugs by binding to the receptor sites. The medication helps in blocking the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.
It is essential to achieve complete opioid detoxification before commencing Naltrexone therapy. When patients go through a non-accelerated method of detoxification, the recommended time of abstinence from an opioid drug is at least 7 to 10 days. However, in the event a rapid detox treatment was the chosen detoxification method, naltrexone therapy can be initiated immediately to reduce relapse risk.
Before someone can begin naltrexone therapy, they must be appropriately screened and assessed. Also, the patient must be completely opioid-free. A comprehensive physical examination that can identify any medical issues (such as liver disease) should also be done prior to taking this medication.
Naltrexone Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Naltrexone is a pure mu antagonist. Studies show that in highly motivated patients, Naltrexone treatment is a helpful post detoxification option, and It can be taken by mouth once daily or even every other day. It has minimal side effects and is neither addicting nor has the potential for abuse. Therefore, it has become a favorable treatment choice for those who desire total abstinence.
Opioid addiction can be a very complicated and frustrating condition. Even for those who successfully achieved detoxification, physical cravings can be overwhelming and lead to relapse. Naltrexone dramatically reduces the desire to use opioids for those struggling with cravings. The drug is an essential component of an effective opioid treatment. With the combination of this medication, sober time, individual mental health assistance, the chances to remain opiate-free are much higher.
Effective medical detoxification is an essential first step for people who abuse heroin and opioid medications. However, choosing the proper detox is a complicated and confusing task. Naltrexone therapy can only begin once a person completely detoxes from opioids. Patients attempting ‘cold turkey’ detox must have remained off all opioids for at least 14-28 days, depending on the specific drug and usage. Most of these patients cannot start a Vivitrol or Naltrexone therapy because they cannot endure the suffering of a ‘cold turkey detox. Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging and stressful, making the required time off opiates nearly impossible for so many.