Naltrexone is a drug that can reverse the addictive effect alcohol and opioids have on the brain. It is often used in combination with therapy to treat alcoholics and street drug users. The hydrochloride salt version of Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade.
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist. It can reduce or lessen the effects such the “high” and cravings induced by alcohol and opiates. Naltrexone is more frequently used to treat alcohol abuse. The drug was authorized in 1984 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to threat opiate addiction.
Research-backed evidence has shown that Naltrexone is effective in reducing heavy drinking when combined with counseling and support group therapy. This combination treatment program is known as the Sinclair Method.
Medical research is less convincing in indicating whether Naltrexone can completely prevent alcohol abuse or reduce cravings for addictive drugs.
Naltrexone works by blocking the opiod receptors in the brain. Research has suggested that Naltrexone is most effective in patients with a gene called Asp40, which is a variant of the common opioid receptor gene.
Naltrexone is sometimes used to treat psychiatric patients afflicted with certain dissociative disorders. Studies have provided no evidence that Naltrexone can reduce nicotine addiction or help patients cede smoking.
The dosage of Naltrexone will depend on the condition being treated and the age of the patient. As Naltrexone is used in combination with counseling, dosage can vary depending on other factors as well.
Naltrexone is available as orally consumable tablets. Naltrexone tablets can either be taken at home by the patient or administered under the supervision of a medical professional or a sponsor.
Naltrexone is usually taken once per day if at home. At a clinic, the tablets are administered once a day or with multiple daily intervals within a week. Naltrexone can be taken with or without food.
Patients who take Naltrexone at home must carefully read all the instructions provided with the packaging and follow the directions exactly as prescribed by a doctor.
Naltrexone by itself cannot adequately treat alcohol or street drug dependence. Patients must also attend all counseling sessions and undergo therapy treatments in order for the drug to be effective.
Naltrexone may cause one or more of the following side effects:
Stomach pain or cramps
Loss of appetite
Increased or decreased levels of energy
Muscle or joint pain
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Immediately inform a doctor if side effects worsen or do not disappear after a week.
Do not take Naltrexone if allergic to any of the ingredients in the tablets.
Naltrexone may not be completely safe to use for patients with a history of hepatitis or liver disease.
Though Naltrexone in prescribed doses does not cause liver damage, large doses of Naltrexone can.
Naltrexone should not be taken along with alcohol and opiod drugs. Patients who may have taken one or more of these substances between 7 to 10 days before the treatments begins should inform their physician.
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