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Naltrexone: Using it for Opiate and Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Naltrexone (Vivitrol or Revia) is a reversing agent for preventing opioids from actively working in someone’s body. It is commonly prescribed for reducing alcohol cravings as well. This medication should be used as an addition to an addiction treatment program. The treatment program would also include counseling, behavioral therapy, compliance monitoring and lifestyle changes too. If someone is using methadone or an opiate, they should not be taking naltrexone because it could cause abrupt symptoms of withdrawal.

What Are Some Heroin and Alcohol Abuse Statistics for the United States of America?

Naltrexone pills in pileThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention states there have been thousands of heroin overdose deaths in the recent years. Many of these fatalities have been in the ages of 18 to 25. In that demographic, heroin use is doubled over the recent 10-year period. This shows how much of an epidemic heroin use has become. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence stated that millions of individuals in the United States, around 1 out of every 12 adults, has some sort of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse disorder. There are millions of Americans who drink dangerous amounts and may eventually develop an alcohol abuse or dependence disorder. This is why it is important to know that Naltrexone and other like medications can help millions of people to overcome alcohol and heroin abuse disorders.

What is Some Naltrexone History?

There are many people who have become addicted to heroin or alcohol. Some people have an addiction to both these harmful substances. Due to this fact, it is essential that something be done to help people overcome their addiction or dependence upon these substances. That is where Naltrexone comes into play. The history of Naltrexone is quite informative. This drug became approved on April 13, 2006 in the United States for treating dependence upon alcohol. It is also called Vivitrol. During October of 2010, this drug was also approved for injections monthly in treating opioid addiction.

There have been many trials done in clinical settings from the beginning of 2002 through mid-to-end of 2003. The results had showed a significant drop in those who were heavy drinkers. It is a very effective medication. The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides much research on the effectiveness of Naltrexone. There is a Naltrexone implant that can be inserted surgically. This implant continuously provides medication which reduces the chance of someone missing a dose. The implant must be put in every 2 to 4 months. While these implants weren’t approved by the U.S. FDA, they have shown a lot of promise for treating addiction.

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What Should Be Known About Naltrexone Dosages and Administration of the Medication?

When treating alcohol addiction, this medication is generally prescribed in 50 mg/day. However, some patients do need a larger dose under medical supervision every 2 to 3 days. The exact dosage would depend on each person’s individual needs. Most patients would be prescribed a smaller amount and it would be increased by a medical professional if needed. Each patient should follow the prescribed instructions and take it at the same time every day. Oftentimes, a doctor will perform urine tests to assure the patient hasn’t taken opiates in the day or days before the Naltrexone prescription begins.

In treating opioid addiction, a prescription is usually given starting with 25 mg/day and this may be raised to 50 mg/day if that is needed. Some patients need to have a prescription for 100 mg/every 2nd day or even 150 mg/ every 3rd day with medical supervision.

What Are Some Possible Drug Interactions and Side Effects?

Naltrexone Just as with almost every medication, there are some possible drug interactions with Naltrexone. Some of these interactions can lead to very severe side effects. Since Naltrexone is prescribed in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addictions, patients should not use those harmful substances when using this medication. Before taking Naltrexone, the patient should let the medical professionals know about all medications they are taking, even OTC or herbal medications. The drugs that may cause possible interactions would be narcotics, anti-diarrhea medication, cough medications and Disulfiram. If a patient gets lab testing done, they should let the doctor know they are on Naltrexone.

What Can Naltrexone Do for Treating an Addiction?

There are a few ways in which Naltrexone can work in treating an addiction. First, it will block effects that opiates have on the body. Second, it will reduce cravings for opiates and alcohol. Third, it will interfere will desires to continue drinking or using drugs. If you have an addiction to opiates or alcohol, you can speak with addiction recovery professionals about getting a prescription for Naltrexone.

What Are the Precautions When Taking Naltrexone?

Doctor talking with patientBefore someone takes Naltrexone, they need to talk with the prescribing doctor about allergies they have. Additionally, the doctors should know about medical history such as kidney disease, liver disease and use of any drugs. Anyone who is taking Naltrexone should have an emergency medical card on them stating their prescription for Naltrexone. That way if they receive medical treatment they aren’t given medications that would interact negatively with this medication.

It is important to know, that when someone stops using Naltrexone, even low opioid dosages could cause sensitivity. This means they could have a life-threatening reaction to taking opioids. If someone needs surgery when taking Naltrexone, they need to let their surgeon know they are taking it. Taking a high dose of opioids when on Naltrexone could cause a fatal reaction.

Some pregnant women are prescribed Naltrexone. However, the women should talk with the doctor before using it. If the woman starts taking Naltrexone, they should talk to a doctor before breastfeeding, to see if it is safe.

Naltrexone has been known to lead to liver issue, so blood tests should be done before taking this medication. More blood work should be done throughout the use of Naltrexone to see how it is affecting the patient’s liver and other areas of the body.

What Are Some Other Uses of Naltrexone?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine talks about different uses of Naltrexone. Small Naltrexone doses could reduce symptoms of other disorders and diseases such as Crohn’s disease, MS, complex regional pain syndrome and fibromyalgia. This medication can reduce inflammation which is why it is so effective in treating symptoms of these diseases.

If you have an opiate or alcohol addiction and need treatment, Naltrexone could be one of the medications you are prescribed. You can contact rehab specialists today to find out more about whether this medication might be right for you.

Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-371-4198 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.