With opioid addiction treatment centers located across the country, we provide adults with the support they need to find lasting recovery from addictions to prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids.
Learn About Naltrexone
Naltrexone is a safe, effective medication that can help adults maintain long-term recovery from opioid addiction. A healthcare provider can prescribe naltrexone as a daily pill or administer naltrexone by injection monthly or every four weeks. When used as directed as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, naltrexone can reduce opioid cravings and lower a person’s chances of future relapse.
As an opioid antagonist, naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids such as morphine, heroin, and prescription painkillers. This decreases a person’s urge to use opioids, but if they do experience a relapse, naltrexone stops them from feeling the euphoric or sedative effects of the opioid.
To avoid withdrawal symptoms, you must wait seven to 14 days after you have successfully stopped using opioids to start taking naltrexone. Some people use naltrexone at the beginning of their recovery journey, while others transition to naltrexone as a long-term support tool.
Your care team will collaborate with you to determine whether naltrexone is the best medication for you by completing a detailed assessment of your medical history, past drug use, and recovery goals. This will allow our expert team to identify the most beneficial medication and dosage for your needs.
Safety & Effectiveness of Naltrexone for Treating Opioid Addiction
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved naltrexone in pill form to treat opioid use disorder in 1984 and the injectable extended-release form in 2010. Healthcare professionals have been successfully using naltrexone in medication-assisted treatment for more than 30 years, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness says that there have been no known concerns associated with long-term use of naltrexone to help adults maintain recovery from opioid addiction.
In a 2018 comparative effectiveness trial published in The Lancet, 283 participants took naltrexone to treat opioid use disorder, compared with 287 participants who took a different medication for the same purpose. The researchers found that naltrexone is equally as safe and effective as other medications used in medication-assisted treatment. Although naltrexone can cause some side effects, which are discussed later, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that naltrexone can have many positive effects, including:
- Reduces a person’s urge to misuse or abuse substances
- Helps people remain in long-term recovery
- Increases a person’s likelihood of avoiding relapse
- Keeps a person from wanting to continue using substances if they experience relapse
As with all prescription medications, it is important to take naltrexone under the supervision of a medical professional who can monitor how you respond to the medication and determine whether any adjustments need to be made throughout opioid addiction treatment. Naltrexone can increase your sensitivity to opioids, so if you use opioids while taking part in a MAT program that includes the use of naltrexone, it can put you at risk for opioid overdose. Working closely with your care team throughout your time in treatment greatly reduces your risk for experiencing any negative outcomes from taking naltrexone as part of a medication-assisted treatment program.
Benefits of Utilizing Naltrexone Within Medication-Assisted Treatment
Taking naltrexone as part of a medication-assisted treatment program has proved to promote better recovery outcomes for countless adults. By reducing overwhelming opioid cravings and stopping you from feeling any effects from using opioids, naltrexone can help you function better in your daily life. While taking naltrexone, you can go to work, take part in therapy, and play a more active role in your home.
Addressing the physical symptoms of opioid addiction is an important first step in your recovery process. When you are able to safely stop using opioids, you can approach other areas of your life with a clearer mind. And without powerful cravings driving you to continue seeking opioids, you can truly focus on your recovery.
But medication alone isn’t enough to address every aspect of opioid addiction. When you take part in a medication-assisted treatment program, you’ll also participate in group and individual counseling. This whole-person approach allows you to identify any traumatic experiences or troubling emotions that may be contributing to your struggles with opioid addiction.
Throughout your time in a MAT program, you’ll work with trained counselors who will help you make the behavioral and lifestyle changes needed to achieve recovery. Your care team will also support you in developing healthier coping skills and strategies to prevent relapse, empowering you to remain in recovery for years to come.
Side Effects of Naltrexone
It is essential to tell your care team if you are taking any medications that contain opioids before starting naltrexone, including medications for pain, cough, colds, or diarrhea. Like with all prescription medications, using naltrexone can lead to certain side effects. Talk to your care team if you experience any side effects so that they can adjust your dosage.
Common side effects of naltrexone include:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Coldlike symptoms
If you experience a strong adverse reaction to naltrexone, contact your care team immediately. When taken under the supervision of qualified professionals, naltrexone is a safe and effective medication that can help you find lasting recovery from opioid addiction.