Overcoming an addiction is never easy, but acknowledging you have a problem can be a substantial first step in the right direction. If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for an opioid or alcohol addiction, there is a good chance you have heard about Naltrexone. You may be wondering about the potential side effects of Naltrexone and whether taking it would be a good decision for your body? Of course, your concerns are valid. Before you start any treatment, it is important to understand how it can affect your physical and mental health.

To help you learn more about the possible side effects of Naltrexone, we have put together a guide that will answer some of your most pressing questions and help put you on a path to recovery.

Before we review the potential side effects, let’s quickly discuss Naltrexone and how it treats addiction.

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a prescription drug. Medical professionals use it as part of medication-assisted treatment or MAT, which combines medication with social and behavioral therapy for those trying to overcome alcoholism and opioid addiction. It is an FDA-approved drug that can be administered in multiple ways, although not all the ways are necessarily FDA-approved. One can ingest it orally, have it injected, or use it in the form of implants and patches.

However, it is essential to mention that Naltrexone does not reverse the damage caused by opioids or alcohol abuse. Instead, it blocks the euphoria caused by opioids, which can lead to substance abuse. For this reason, Naltrexone is called an opioid receptor antagonist. Similarly, this life-saving drug can reduce the craving for a drink among those battling alcoholism. It can significantly reduce one’s desire for alcohol and prevent relapse.

In addition, Naltrexone is not addictive — according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

You can find out more about the history of Naltrexone here.

Possible Physical Side Effects Of Naltrexone

Arguably, no drug is perfect. Although using Naltrexone for alcohol and opioid addiction treatment has shown encouraging results. However, one cannot deny that this medication does have some side effects.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, these are some of the most common Naltrexone side effects one may experience:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint pain

Possible Long-Term Side Effects of Naltrexone

Although Naltrexone is safe for long-term use, continued usage of this drug may result in the following side effects:

  • Arthritis
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory infections

Please inform your doctor about these medical conditions before they become debilitating. Moreover, do not increase or decrease your Naltrexone dosage on your own.

What Are the Possible Psychological Side Effects Of Naltrexone?

Some people may also experience the following psychological side effects of this prescription medication.

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Combined with the common withdrawal symptoms, dealing with Naltrexone side effects can get tricky for some. However, medical professionals do not recommend discontinuing the use of this medication without approval from the doctor.

If you are experiencing any of these side effects, it is advised to speak with your doctor about possibly adjusting the Naltrexone dosage.

Does Naltrexone Interact with Other Drugs?

Naltrexone has proven to be one of the most prominent medications in the fight against alcohol and opioid dependency among addicts. But much like other drugs, it can interact with different medications – including over-the-counter medicines.

Therefore, before you start your treatment, be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies you may have and share a list of drugs you are taking as well.

Here are some of the medications that can cause adverse effects when coupled with Naltrexone:

  • Diarrhea medications
  • Cough medications
  • Narcotic drugs

A Few Things to Keep In Mind While Using Naltrexone

As mentioned above, Naltrexone is usually administered in conjunction with behavioral therapy and counseling. If your doctor has prescribed you this drug, be sure to keep these things in mind while taking it.

  • Naltrexone can make you dizzy. Therefore, you should not drive or use any heavy machinery while taking this medication.
  • It is advised to stay away from activities that require you to be alert.
  • Do not hide your substance abuse from your doctor or pharmacist if you have a problem.
  • Your doctor and pharmacist must also know if you have any kidney or liver infections.
  • If you are using medical marijuana or have any chronic illnesses, make sure to share the details with your physician.
  • It may be a good idea to carry a medical ID stating you are taking Naltrexone. This can be extremely useful in emergency cases and allow medical professionals to give you appropriate treatment.
  • Naltrexone blocks the “high” feeling caused by opiate drugs, which leads some people to take large doses to overcome it. This can be very harmful. In fact, it may result in permanent damage or even death.
  • Once you stop using this medication, you may become more sensitive to lower doses of opioids. In other words, taking even a small amount of this substance can cause an overdose.
  • Your doctor should know if you are using Naltrexone, especially if you plan to undergo surgery or other medical treatment.

In a Nutshell

Roughly 50,000 people die from opioid-involved overdoses across the country every year.

Naltrexone has proven to be a promising medication in the fight against alcohol and opioid addiction. It is a non-addictive drug typically prescribed along with psychotherapy in the treatment of addiction. Yet, it also has possible physical and psychological side effects you should consider before taking it.

With this in mind, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation for Naltrexone usage. Also, make sure you understand all the possible side effects of Naltrexone before starting your treatment regime.

If you want to learn about overcoming addiction, please take a look at our comprehensive treatment plan. Also, feel free to get in touch with us to find a provider for your addiction assistance.