Naltrexone – HCL
Brand Names of Naltrexone: Revia and Vivitrol
Drug Class: Opioid Antagonist
Naltrexone (Revia) is an opioid antagonist drug. Doctors prescribe Naltrexone to reverse and block the effects of endogenous opioids. It prevents the effects through a process called competitive binding. There are minimum effects besides its blocking properties.
Naltrexone has been proven to be a valuable component of opioid abuse treatment when administered in combination with professional, emotional care. It can also successfully manage cravings from alcoholism. The mechanism action that occurs with the Naltrexone use in alcoholism is not yet understood. Naltrexone is a non-addictive and a non-mood-altering drug. When using opiates virtually eliminates physical cravings and can prevent individuals from experiencing euphoria.
People using any opioids opiates, including methadone, heroin, or prescription pain opiates, should not use this medication. Doing so can cause sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Naltrexone Risks and Side Effects
Some Potential Risks:
- Patients currently taking opioids should not take Naltrexone. This includes patients 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 very risky 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 trying to overcome 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:
Along with its intended effects, naltrexone may also cause some unwanted symptoms or side effects. Although most people tolerate an adequate dose, some effects may occur. If they do happen, please call your prescribing physician or seek medical attention. Before starting this therapy, patients should provide their prescribing physician 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. 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.
Naltrexone Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Naltrexone is a pure mu antagonist. Studies show that in highly motivated patients, Naltrexone treatment is a useful 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 choice of treatment 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. For those struggling with cravings, Naltrexone dramatically reduces the desire to use opioids. 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.
For people who abuse heroin and opioid medications, effective medical detoxification is an essential first step. However, choosing the right 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.