Naltrexone is a prescription pharmaceutical used in the treatment of opiate and alcohol dependence. The drug is sold under the brand names such as ReVita, Vivitrol, and others. Created to help opiate addicts stay clean from street drugs in the 1960s, Naltrexone has been talked about more of late for the increases in prescriptions being written to treat alcohol abuse. Since 1995 the drug has been approved for circulation for the maintenance of abstinence from alcohol.
Is Naltrexone Truly Effective Against Alcoholism?
However, there have been some questions about how it interacts with the body and how it’s different from other drugs that are designed to keep you from drinking. The following article is a resource for you and for any questions you might have about Naltrexone and other drugs used for abstinence maintenance.
How Does Naltrexone Work in Alcoholism?
The chemistry behind Naltrexone is fairly simple but to understand it you may need to understand a little bit about how alcohol affects the brain. Alcohol works by bonding with the same receptors in the brain as opioids would. The result from the alcohol molecules interacting with these receptors is an increase in dopamine (otherwise known as the stuff that makes you feel good). There are also side effects from drinking alcohol such as a decrease in motor functions, impacted judgment, or liver damage.
Naltrexone works by binding to receptors in the brain and when alcohol or opiates are introduced to these already filled receptors, alcohol will have little or less effect. In other words, the good feelings and perceived benefits of getting high or drunk are drastically reduced, and hopefully the urges to use along with it. But because naltrexone blocks the dopamine increases created by abusing alcohol or opiates, the dangerous side effects from the substances are still present. This is why addicts using Naltrexone need to be extremely careful when taking the drug; the risk of overdose or alcohol poisoning is very real and since the patient is not getting high from the substances, the dangers might be difficult to recognize.
Does Naltrexone Make You Sick if You Drink on It?
Unlike other prescriptions such as disulfiram (sold under brand name Antabuse) which creates an unpleasant reaction in the body when drunk upon (including vomiting and nausea), Naltrexone simply reduces the perceived benefits from drinking or using opiates. However, this feature makes Naltrexone more dangerous than Antabuse. This is because if an addict or alcoholic is determined to drink or use, they still will no matter what medication they take to prevent them from doing so. And therefore the risk of overdose or alcohol poisoning is higher with Naltrexone in comparison to other drugs with similar missions.
Is Naltrexone Right for Me or My Loved One?
Naltrexone and other maintenance abstinence drugs are effective treatment options for many recovering addicts today. But just because the drug is effective doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with it. For example, if an addict is determined to use on one particular day, they could simply skip a dose. There are injectable treatments available to help ensure adherence but real recovery requires a change in thinking. This means a treatment program that combines prescriptions with certified addiction counseling. According to the National Institute of Health:
Naltrexone should not be prescribed without some sort of supportive counseling or medical management. (NIH)
This is solid advice for anyone dealing with drug abuse or addiction recovery. Fortunately for them, they are not alone. Some have dedicated their lives to help people in recovery, and some of those people can be contacted right here through Allure Detox. Reach out for help and we will offer you the best treatment options for alcoholism.