Naltrexone (AKA Vivitrol) is a drug of the opiate antagonists class used in the treatment of addiction to alcohol or opioid-containing painkillers like OxyContin or codeine. It can also be helpful in getting rid from addiction to tobacco or gambling and even for weight loss in case of obesity. Naltrexone is only effective as part of a complex treatment program including professional psychological support and participation in self-help social groups. Finally, a patient is expected to change his or her lifestyle.
What are the forms of naltrexone?
Naltrexone is mainly available in the form of tablets and injections. However, it can be used even in the form of implants which are inserted into the lower abdominal wall. They have been shown to be effective for treating opioid addiction. It should be noted that implant can be used only in clinical settings providing constant professional supervision.
Who should not use naltrexone?
In moderate dosage, naltrexone is proved to be safe even in patients with problematic liver. However, when taken in large doses, it can have a toxic effect on the liver. Be sure to inform your doctor in case of any of the following symptoms: prolonged (for more than one day) pain in the area of the liver, yellowing of the eyes, excessive fatigue, loss of appetite and other unusual states.
Hepatitis, liver or kidney disease and hemophilia can be contraindications against using naltrexone; tell your doctor if you suffer from any of them.
Naltrexone is not compatible with alcohol and prohibited for patients taking opioid drugs. Large dosed naltrexone in combination with opioids can cause coma and even death. Taking opioid medicines should be stopped at least seven days before you start a course of naltrexone. Never use naltrexone if you are still experiencing withdrawal symptoms!
There are also psychological problems which can inhibit your doctor from prescribing you naltrexone. Please inform him or her if you have ever experienced suicidal thoughts, extreme sadness, anxiousness, hopelessness, feeling of guilt, or worthlessness, or helplessness. Naltrexone does not decrease the symptoms of depression.
Also warn your physician if you are going to have any surgery or even dental procedures.
Is naltrexone allowed in pregnant women?
There is no definite opinion as to whether naltrexone is harmful for a breastfeeding baby; however, it definitely might harm an unborn infant. Please talk to your doctor about using naltrexone if you are pregnant, or going to become pregnant, or breast-feeding.
What are possible side-effects of naltrexone?
First of all, these are allergic reaction like rash, hives, itching, breathing difficulties, chest tightness. Milder effects are also possible (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, stomach pain, loss of appetite, headache, dizziness, nervousness, irritability, or anxiety, tearfulness, increased or decreased energy, difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, drowsiness). Please immediately inform your doctor if you experience any of the listed symptoms.
Does naltrexone interacts with other medications?
Be sure to inform your doctor about all medicines or even nutritional supplements you are currently taking. Some of them may affect your liver; in this case the dosage of naltrexone should be decreased. Intake of opioids is absolutely unacceptable. You should not consume alcohol while taking naltrexone. It means that even alcohol-containing tinctures are prohibited.
Note that taking naltrexone affects your reaction rate. Be careful when driving!
How to take naltrexone?
When taken at home, a typical daily dose is 4.5 mg once a day; with or without food. In a clinic setting, under the supervision of doctors, possible schemes can essentially differ from this (up to 150 mg a day). You should strictly observe your doctor’s recommendation. Never take more or less of the drug than prescribed! If you have missed a dose of naltrexone, take it as soon as you can.