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Naltrexone for Alcohol

Naltrexone for Alcohol

What You Should Know About Naltrexone for Alcohol Abuse

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, you may have heard of naltrexone as a possible treatment option. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the effects of drugs like alcohol and opioids, and it’s been shown to be effective at helping people reduce their alcohol consumption. But naltrexone is not a magic bullet. It’s important to understand how it works and what to expect before starting treatment. Learn about naltrexone and alcohol, including how the medication works, what you can expect during treatment, and the risks of taking naltrexone.

What Is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat substance use disorders. It works by blocking the effects of alcohol or opioids, making it difficult to get high on them. If naltrexone is part of your treatment plan, it should be along with behavioral therapy and other support. While naltrexone can be effective in helping you recover from addiction, it’s not a cure. People who take naltrexone for alcohol abuse still need to work hard to stay sober.

Behavior Therapy Program

How Do You Take Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is prescribed as a pill or tablet. It can also be given as an injection. The injection form of naltrexone is generally only used if you’re unable to take the pill; for instance, if you’re vomiting or have certain gut conditions that make it difficult to absorb medication orally. Injectable naltrexone must be given by a healthcare professional, and it must be administered intramuscularly (into the muscle). It is typically given once a month. People who receive injectable naltrexone may also be prescribed pills to take daily for the first week or two after their injection, to help prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Oral naltrexone is taken once a day, usually in the morning. Extended-release injectable naltrexone is given once a month by a healthcare provider. The extended-release formulation of naltrexone can last for up to four weeks. Both oral and extended-release injectable naltrexone are effective at treating alcohol use disorders and reducing the risk of relapse.

How Does Naltrexone Help Alcohol Use Disorders?

Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of alcohol, as well as opioids, such as heroin and morphine. Naltrexone can reduce cravings for alcohol and make it less pleasurable to drink. Even though naltrexone can prevent the feeling of being drunk, you are still impaired if you’ve been drinking alcohol. It does not lower your blood alcohol content (BAC). This means coordination, reaction time, and judgment are still affected.

There are two main ways naltrexone can help people with alcohol use disorders:

  1. It can help reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
  2. It can help prevent relapse after you’ve stopped drinking.

Naltrexone works best when it’s used along with other alcohol treatments, such as counseling and support groups.

How Effective Is Naltrexone for Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Naltrexone has been shown to be most effective when used in combination with other forms of treatment, such as alcohol counseling and support groups. While naltrexone is not a cure for alcoholism, it can help you abstain from drinking and avoid relapse. Studies have shown that naltrexone can be an effective tool in the recovery process. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that a meta-analysis of several studies on naltrexone and alcohol found that there is strong evidence the drug can:

  • Reduce heavy drinking
  • Reduce the frequency of drinking alcohol
  • Prevent alcohol relapse
  • Reduce alcohol cravings

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will respond to naltrexone in the same way. Some people may find it helps them reduce their drinking, while others may find it’s not effective or gives them too many side effects. If you’re considering taking naltrexone, talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.

What Are Naltrexone Side Effects?

Naltrexone comes with potential side effects. The type and severity of side effects of naltrexone can depend on:

  • The form of naltrexone (pill or injection)
  • Whether you’re taking it for alcohol abuse or opioid addiction
  • Your individual physical makeup
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders (dual diagnosis) or medical conditions
  • How much alcohol you’ve been abusing and for how long
  • If you’re drinking while taking naltrexone

The most common side effects of naltrexone can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Less common side effects of naltrexone are:

  • Stomach cramping
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Depression or mood changes
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen or burning eyes
  • Fever
  • Issues with urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Itching or rash
  • Weight changes
  • Shortness of breath

In rare cases, more serious side effects have been reported, such as liver damage and liver failure. Side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.

Is Naltrexone for Alcohol Addictive?

Naltrexone is not typically addictive for a number of reasons:

  1. It does not produce the same pleasurable effects as drugs or alcohol – In fact, naltrexone actually blocks the brain’s ability to experience pleasure from these substances.
  2. Naltrexone is not habit-forming – It does not create physical dependence, as many other drugs do.

Is Naltrexone Safe?

Naltrexone has been used for many years to help treat drug and alcohol dependence. While naltrexone is generally safe, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. These may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and tiredness. In rare cases, more serious side effects can occur. The risks of long-term use of naltrexone are still being studied.

If you experience any unusual symptoms while taking naltrexone, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. With proper medical supervision, naltrexone can be a helpful tool in substance abuse treatment.

How Do You Get Naltrexone for Alcohol?

Currently in the U.S., you need a prescription for naltrexone. It is not available over the counter. This is because naltrexone can have serious side effects if it’s not used properly. If you think naltrexone for alcohol treatment might be right for you, talk to your doctor about whether you need a prescription.

Who Should Take Naltrexone for Alcohol Addiction?

There are a number of factors to consider when understanding if naltrexone for alcohol addiction is right for you:

  1. Are you motivated to quit drinking? If someone is not ready to give up alcohol, then naltrexone is not likely to be effective.
  2. Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? Naltrexone may not be recommended for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  3. Are you aware of the potential side effects? While most people tolerate the medication well, some experience more bothersome side effects than nausea and fatigue.

How Long Does Treatment with Naltrexone Last?

The length of time naltrexone will be effective for treating addiction depends on several factors:

  • Severity of the addiction
  • The response to treatment
  • Overall health

In most cases, naltrexone is taken for a period of 12 weeks, followed by a tapering-off period. Some people may need to continue treatment for longer to maintain sobriety.

There are extended-release versions of naltrexone that can be taken once a month, which may be a good option for people who have difficulty sticking to a daily regimen. Ultimately, the decision about how long to take naltrexone should be made by a medical professional who is familiar with your individual situation.

What Types of Therapy Support Naltrexone Treatment?

Naltrexone treatment for alcohol addiction should include behavioral therapy to support sobriety and lifestyle changes. There are several types of behavioral therapy that can be effective, depending on your needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, can help you identify and change negative thought patterns that contribute to alcohol use. Motivational interviewing may be used to help you tap into your motivation to change your behavior. And community reinforcement can help you develop a supportive social network.

Structured alcohol addiction treatment at a treatment facility may include:

Treatment Programs for Alcohol Addiction

Treatment programs for alcohol addiction aim to help people who are struggling with alcohol abuse regain control of their lives and achieve sobriety. These programs typically involve interventions like:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication management, including the use of naltrexone
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Supportive services
  • Educational components that focus on helping you identify triggers for your drinking behavior and develop healthier coping skills

The difference between each recovery program is the level of care offered. Residential and PHP  treatments are more intensive and require extended stays at a rehab facility. Outpatient treatments are less intensive and allow you to continue going to work or school while also attending scheduled therapies for alcohol. A consultation with addiction treatment counselors can help someone decide which level of care they need to get sober. The level of care that’s right for you depends on your drinking problem.

Residential treatment is often recommended for individuals with a severe drinking problem. It’s a more intensive level of care than traditional outpatient addiction therapy and focuses on helping you overcome the underlying causes of addiction. These could include unresolved trauma or co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety. Residential rehab provides you with an environment free from alcohol and other substances, allowing you to focus solely on your recovery in a safe and supportive setting.

During residential addiction treatment, clients typically participate in structured activities such as:

These services are delivered by trained addiction professionals committed to providing personalized treatment plans tailored to meet your unique needs.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) utilize naltrexone when necessary for those suffering from alcohol abuse. A PHP provides a safe, structured, and supportive environment where you can receive treatment during the day, including individual counseling, group therapy, medication management, and more, without needing to remain in an inpatient setting overnight. By attending these programs five to seven days a week for several hours per day, you gain access to comprehensive treatments while still having the opportunity to return home each evening. This makes partial hospitalization programs optimal choice for many striving for recovery. Not only do PHPs provide comprehensive care, they help set you up with the resources to stay sober long after leaving treatment.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is another option for individuals suffering from alcohol abuse. An IOP offers comprehensive care without the need to stay overnight at a facility or hospital and can be an effective alternative to traditional inpatient treatment. It typically consists of:

  • Counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Case management services
  • Mental health assessments
  • Other support services that are tailored to your needs

IOP may also use medication-assisted treatments (MAT) such as naltrexone to aid in the recovery process.

Outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse can be an effective way to achieve sobriety without spending extended time at a residential treatment facility. It offers the flexibility to continue your daily routine while still attending regular therapy sessions and other treatments. Outpatient programs typically focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling, individual counseling, family therapy, medication management, and relapse prevention skills. Participants are also educated about the risks of drinking and how to effectively address them. The medical professionals overseeing a patient’s outpatient treatment may prescribe Naltrexone if it’s deemed necessary.

Looking for Help?

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction or drug abuse, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Alcohol addiction is a serious disease that can have devastating consequences, including liver damage, brain damage, and death. The good news is there are treatment options available that can help you recover from alcohol addiction and lead a healthy, happy life.

At Vogue Recovery Center we offer a comprehensive treatment program that includes detoxification, counseling, and support groups. The staff at Vogue Recovery Center are passionate about helping you recover from alcohol addiction and will be with you every step of the way on your journey to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, please contact us for help!



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