Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the effects of drugs known as opioids.
It was originally used to treat dependence on opioid drugs but has recently been approved by the FDA as treatment for alcoholism. In clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of Naltrexone, patients who received Naltrexone were twice as successful in remaining abstinent and in avoiding relapse as patients who received placebo - an inactive pill.
Regarding treatment of alcoholism, Naltrexone provides three kinds of effects:
1) Naltrexone can reduce craving, which is the urge or desire to drink
2) Naltrexone helps patients remain abstinent
3) Naltrexone can interfere with the tendency to want to drink more if a recovering patient slips and has a drink
Naltrexone is usually used as a part of a program of treatment for alcoholism including counseling, help with associated psychological and social problems and participation in self-help groups.
Naltrexone does not cause physical dependence and it can be stopped at any time without withdrawal symptoms.
Follow the directions for using this medicine provided by your doctor. Take Naltrexone exactly as directed.
Treatment of Alcohol Dependence:
A dose of 50 mg once daily is recommended for most patients.The recommended initial course of treatment is 3 months. At that time the patient and clinical staff should evaluate the need for further treatment on the basis of degree of improvement, degree of continued concerns about relapse and level of improvement in areas of functioning other than alcohol use.
Treatment of Opioid Dependence:
Treatment should not be attempted unless the patient has remained opioid-free for at least 7-10 days. Treatment should be initiated carefully, with an initial dose of 25 mg of Naltrexone. If no withdrawal signs occur, the patient may be started on 50 mg a day thereafter.
Do not take Naltrexone, if:
you are allergic to any of its ingredients;
you have severe or active liver or kidney problems;
you are receiving opioid analgesics;
you are currently dependent on opioids since an acute withdrawal syndrome may ensue.
Active ingredient: naltrexone hydrochloride.