Using Naltrexone For Opioid Use Disorder
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Using Naltrexone For Opioid Use Disorder
Naltrexone is a medication that is used to reverse opioid medications, including heroin. Using naltrexone for opioid use disorder is just part of the treatment process.
It binds to the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to. It is very similar to a car taking a parking spot from another car.
It also binds to endorphin receptors and blocks the effects of alcohol. It is used regularly as a part of medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Naltrexone is available in a pill form that is taken daily or on rotating days and in an injectable form that is given once a month.
Naltrexone is effective in blocking opioids (heroin, morphine, and codeine). It is also used for alcohol abuse. It decreases cravings and can help maintain sobriety.
In general, a MAT program may last for several months as a person is transitioned away from their addictive substance. Due to its mechanism, naltrexone should only be given after many days of being alcohol and opioid-free or alcohol-free. Ideally, it should be started after the detox period has been completed, and there are no traces of either opioids or alcohol still in your system.
Once taken, naltrexone can be effective within an hour and can last 24 hours. Additional information can be found here.
Naltrexone is one tool that is used to help maintain sobriety. Using naltrexone for opioid use disorder can help someone along their road to recovery. It is used in combination with counseling and other social support programs.
Naltrexone cannot be used forever; it is a bridge while other treatment steps are implemented. It is designed to be effective in the acute period after detox and can be used in an outpatient setting. It can be a very effective tool as you gain confidence back out in the real world after rehab.
Naltrexone is designed to prevent opioids and alcohol from being effective; therefore those substances should not be used while receiving naltrexone. If they are, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Both the opioid and naltrexone cannot be on the same receptor; naltrexone will always remove the opioid off the receptor.
Suppose you are dependent on an opioid and receive naltrexone. In that case, the opioid will be rapidly and immediately removed from the receptors in the brain and body which can be unpleasant and feel like an acute withdrawal.
If you attempt to use opioids and alcohol while naltrexone is in your system, you may not feel any effects. If you try to use higher and higher doses to feel something, you can experience an overdose without feeling any high. You will still be drunk or impaired but may not feel it. You can still have delayed responses, decreased breathing, and lack of coordination but feel relatively normal. As a result, an overdose of opioids or alcohol on naltrexone can be fatal. You may not feel any progression of taking more and more until you take far too much and have done permanent harm.
Naltrexone is used for alcoholism as a tool to reduce the enjoyment of alcohol and to reduce cravings. Some people may take naltrexone before drinking. Drinking an alcoholic drink on naltrexone can feel equivalent to drinking a glass of water. As a result, there are no effects, and it removes the buzz and cravings for more alcohol. Using naltrexone in this way requires a great deal of patient education and commitment to taking naltrexone according to the physician’s orders.
Compliance with taking naltrexone to decrease cravings is up to the patient and may not be the correct choice for everyone. Intermittent naltrexone use may not prove helpful as you battle addiction.
Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder
Naltrexone is not a cure for addiction. It is a physical took to help sustain abstinence from opioids, including heroin. It is best used in combination with other addiction treatment therapies, support groups, and recovery work for the best results.
If someone completes detox and begins naltrexone, they should be extremely cautious of any opioid use again. Naltrexone has helped to block the opioid pleasure effects from the brain. Someone who is used to using large amounts of opioids during the throes of addiction may relapse and want to use those same large amounts. After naltrexone therapy, the body is essentially opioid naïve. If someone relapses and uses the same amounts as before naltrexone, they are at very high risk for a fatal overdose on the first use.
Naltrexone use has reset the body back to ground zero of opioid use. Any opioid use after naltrexone therapy can have unpredictable effects.
Naltrexone and Withdrawal
Naltrexone is not addictive and will not cause withdrawal after use for many weeks. It can precipitate withdrawal if you are receiving opioid therapy, and the combination should be avoided.
Naltrexone also does not prevent opioid and alcohol withdrawal. Before starting naltrexone, you should have not received any opioids for at least 14 days. It is recommended that naltrexone only be started after detox has been completed.
Naltrexone is very safe and can be highly effective. Side effects are generally mild and short-lived. Some possible side effects are below:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness or insomnia
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle pain or joint pain
- Liver damage when taken in large doses
- Injection site reactions
Naltrexone should be used exactly as prescribed. It is only as effective while it is actively being used. When you take naltrexone, you may not feel anything. Even for several days of use, users may report no changes.
Over time you may start to realize that cravings decrease, and thoughts of opioids or alcohol have diminished significantly.
Tolerance to naltrexone does not appear to occur; therefore doses are generally stable and can be effective for many courses of treatment. It does require you to be very compliant with its use and honest with your physician about taking any other medications or drugs.
Since naltrexone is only effective for opioids and alcohol, it is not an effective treatment strategy for cocaine abuse or other stimulant abuse.
It can react with different medications and can make opioid pain relief ineffective.
It is recommended that you carry naltrexone identification cards with you while you are receiving this and notify any physicians before you have any procedures or surgeries. The pain medication may not work during and after the procedure if naltrexone is in your system.
It is very important not to override the effects of naltrexone by taking large amounts of an opioid or heroin while receiving naltrexone. You can easily suffer an accidental fatal overdose due to the chemical reactions of naltrexone with the opioid.
Additional information can be found here.
If naltrexone sounds like the right option for you, but you are concerned about costs, give us a call to discuss options. We provide free insurance verification for naltrexone. We are familiar with limited budget treatment situations.
We can work with your situation to determine payment and insurance options. Your health is the single best investment you can make.
How to Get Help
Naltrexone has been a lifesaver for many struggling with opioid and alcohol addictions.
If you are interested in a clean and sober life and learn more about options with naltrexone, reach out to us for help.We are committed to helping you make real changes in your life.
This may be a perfect time for you to consider options for long term health and wellness.