Naltrexone

Brand names of naltrexone

  • Trexan
  • ReVia

Naltrexone is an exceptional narcotic drug that impedes the consequences of other narcotic medicines as well as alcohol. In effect, naltrexone is prescribed to cure addiction to narcotic drugs or alcohol. In other words, this medication is generally used concurrently with psychotherapy as well as social support with a view to lend a hand to people who have discontinued alcohol consumption as well as using street drugs to keep on avoiding the use of such substances. It is important to note that naltrexone should never be given to people who might be still drinking alcohol in large quantities or using street drugs. This medication belongs to the class of drugs called opiate antagonists and works by diminishing the intense desire for alcohol as well as by impeding the consequences of opioid (opium-like) medications as well as street drugs.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking naltrexone

Before you start taking naltrexone, it is important to take a few precautions to avoid the adverse affects caused by this drug. First and foremost, you should never take naltrexone if you have allergic reactions to naltrexone naloxone, any of its constituents, any other opioid medications and/ or other medications. In such cases, it is extremely important to consult your physician before you start taking this opiate antagonist.

Tell your physician or healthcare provider if you are taking any opioid medications or street drugs that may include methadone (Dolophine, Methadose) or levomethadyl acetate, specific medications meant for treating diarrhea, pain or cough. You also ought to tell your physician if you have taken any of the above mentioned medications in the last one week to 10 days. In case of any doubt, ask your physician if any of the medications taken by you is an opioid. In such cases, your physician may ask you to undergo certain medical examinations to ascertain if you actually have taken any opioid medication or have used any street drug in the past one week to 10 days. In case it is found that you have taken any opioid medication during this period, your physician will advise you against taking naltrexone for quite some time.

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It is important for you to know that in case you have taken any opioid medication or street drugs in the 10 days prior to beginning your treatment with naltrexone, you will be more susceptible to the adverse effects of this opiate antagonist drug. In effect, the side effects of naltrexone are likely to remain even after you have completed the therapy using this medication. Inform your physician when you have completed your treatment with naltrexone and he/ she might prescribe some medications for you that are essential to take following a therapy with naltrexone.

Here is a word of caution. While you are being treated with naltrexone, you should not take any opioid medication or use any street drugs, for taking them concurrently may result in grave side effects. As aforementioned naltrexone impedes or blocks the consequences of narcotic medications as well as opioid street drugs. If you are taking these narcotic substances in low dosages or normal quantities, it is likely that you would not experience their consequences. However, using or taking large or higher amounts of narcotic medications or drugs while you are undergoing therapy with naltrexone may result in grave harm to your health. It may result in coma (an enduring state of unconsciousness) or even death.

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Before you start taking the opiate antagonist naltrexone, it is important to tell your physician or healthcare provider regarding all the prescription and over-the-counter medications being used by you. You should also tell if you are taking any herbal products, dietary supplements and/ or vitamins. In case you are taking thioridazine and disulfiram (Antabuse), ensure that you tell your physician about it. If required, your physician may alter the dosage of the medications you are taking currently or cautiously examine you for any possible side effect after taking naltrexone concurrently with these medications.

People suffering from kidney problems or those who have had endured depression must tell their physician about their condition before they start using naltrexone. Similarly, women who intend to use this medication ought to tell their doctors if they are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. In the event of any women becoming pregnant during her therapy with naltrexone, she should immediately inform her doctor regarding the development.

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It is important to note that people taking naltrexone or intending to start a therapy with this medication should inform their physician if they require any special medical treatment or have to undergo a surgery, counting dental surgery. In fact, whenever people taking naltrexone go in for any type of surgery, they should inform their surgeon of their therapy with this medication before hand. In addition, it is advisable that people who are using naltrexone ought to always wear a badge or have a medical identification with them in order to enable the healthcare provider or a doctor to know that they are taking the medication before they begin any treatment during an emergency.

It is common knowledge that anyone overusing any drug or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly usually suffers from depression and may occasionally try to injure or even kill themselves. They generally suffer from suicidal thoughts. Taking the opium antagonist naltrexone too does not ensure that your risk to harm yourself would be diminished. Therefore, whenever you experience any symptom of depression or similar feelings, such as apprehensiveness, dejection, despondency, guiltiness, vulnerability, irrelevance or thinking about injuring or destroying yourself or trying to do anything of this sort, you or any member of your family ought to immediately seek medical help and call your physician. In fact, it is essential for your family members to be aware of the consequences of taking naltrexone and be prepared for any exigency. They also ought to know that the above mentioned symptoms may become serious and call the doctor right away in case you are not capable of seeking medical help personally.

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Usage

Naltrexone, a medication belonging to the class of opium antagonists, is used to assist in treating patients suffering from dependence of alcohol and narcotic drugs. This medication is always used concurrently with psychological as well as social counselling. However, it may be noted that naltrexone is not useful in treating patients who may be addicted to cocaine or any other non-opioid drugs.

How to use naltrexone

Naltrexone is available in tablet form and is meant to be taken orally. It can be taken at home and also at the chamber of one's physician or healthcare provider under their supervision. When the medication is taken at home, the standard dosage is one tablet every day taken with or without food. On the other hand, if naltrexone is taken at the physician's clinic or the treatment center, the dosage may vary from one tablet every day barring Sundays to one tablet taken in every two days or one tablet taken every third day depending on the condition of the patient and his/ her response to the therapy with this medication. Usually, this medication is taken at the same time every day. Before you start taking naltrexone, it is important to read the instructions on the label carefully and follow them to the minutest detail. In case of any doubt, you may ask your physician or pharmacist to elucidate on how to use naltrexone. It is important to take the precise dose of naltrexone prescribed by your physician. It is strictly advised not to take the medication in excess or low doses or take it more frequently than recommended by your physician or healthcare provider.

Naltrexone should not be used independently since this medication is only effective when it is taken as a part of a de-addiction therapy, especially to help people who have been dependent on alcohol or street drugs to keep away from it forever. This medication should be taken conjunctly with psychological and social counselling. Hence, people who undergo naltrexone therapy ought to ensure that they will be present at all the counselling gatherings, meetings of support groups, education programs as well as any other treatment that may be recommended by your healthcare provider or doctor.

It may be kept in mind that while taking naltrexone assists in keeping away from alcohol and street drugs, it does not put off or provide relief from the withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced by the user when he or she stops taking these narcotic substances. On the contrary, use of naltrexone is likely to further aggravate or deteriorate the withdrawal symptoms. Hence, before taking this medication you should tell your physician or healthcare provider if you have been taking any narcotic medications or opioid street drugs or drinking large amounts of alcohol in the past one week to 10 days. People who have just stopped taking this narcotic substances or alcohol and have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms should not take naltrexone as it will only worsen the withdrawal symptoms.

It is important to remember that naltrexone is only effective till you are taking this medication. It will help you to keep off alcohol, opioid medications and opioid street drugs for the duration that you take naltrexone. Therefore, it is advisable to continue taking this medication even after you feel that your dependence on these substances has gone and you have started feeling better. Never stop taking naltrexone without consulting your physician or healthcare provider.

How naltrexone works

Naltrexone belongs to the class of drugs called opiate antagonists and it works by blocking the exhilarated influences that opioid (opium-like) narcotics, including heroin and morphine, have on one's system. Naltrexone impedes the consequences of these narcotic substances as well as alcohol by aggressive binding to opioid receptors present in the brain. Although the exact means of action of this medication in preventing alcohol dependency is yet to be ascertained, it has been established that taking naltrexone helps to diminish the craving as well as consumption of alcoholic beverages significantly.

Side effects

Serious
Naltrexone may cause liver damage when taken in excess. Call your doctor right away if you develop abdominal pain lasting more than a few days, dark urine, white bowel movements or a yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes.
Common
For alcoholism:For narcotic addiction:
Less common
For alcoholism:
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
For narcotic addiction:

Possible interactions

Naltrexone is known to interact with certain narcotic medications, herbal medicines, minerals, alcohol as well as marijuana. Hence, people undergoing treatment with naltrexone should be careful to avoid using these substances concurrently. Below is a brief discussion regarding the various substances that interact with naltrexone.

Other medicaments:
  • Naltrexone should not be taken in conjunction with any narcotic or opioid medications as it may cause grave side effects.
  • People taking naltrexone should also not take any other medications that are noxious for the liver, as taking them concurrently may cause enhanced risk of liver toxicity.
  • In addition, it is strictly advisable not to take naltrexone with thioridazine as taking them simultaneously may result in drowsiness and lassitude.
Herbal medicines or minerals:
People taking naltrexone therapy should consult their physician or healthcare provider before they start taking any herbal medication. In effect, naltrexone is known to interact with a number of herbal medicines. While taking ephedra or kola simultaneously with naltrexone, one is likely to deteriorate nervousness related to alcohol abstinence. On the other hand, taking valerian or kava kava concurrently with naltrexone is likely to alleviate nervousness or problems in falling asleep (insomnia).
Alcohol:
It is not recommended to drink alcohol while undergoing therapy with naltrexone. In effect, one of the main objectives of treatment with naltrexone is to help people dependent of alcohol to give up their addiction.
Marijuana smoking:
People undergoing treatment with naltrexone to help them continue to keep off narcotic medications, alcohol and/ or opioid street drugs ought not to attempt to smoke marijuana.

Storage instructions

Naltrexone should always be stored in the container in which it is available. The container ought to be always tightly closed and kept in a place that is beyond the reach of children as well as pets. It is advisable to store naltrexone at room temperature and away form exposure to heat and moisture. This medication should never be kept in the bathroom. The medications that are required no longer or have lapsed their expiry date ought to be disposed off carefully. If necessary, you should talk to your pharmacist regarding the appropriate way to dispose of the unwanted medications.

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