Naltrexone is an FDA approved medicine that serves as an opioid receptor antagonist. It is used primarily in the treatment of alcohol and opioid dependence. Naltrexone blocks certain receptors in the part of the brain that trigger dopamine release and reinforces the vicious and compulsive addiction feedback loop. When these areas of the brain are blocked, the craving for alcohol and opioids is eliminated or significantly reduced. And if alcohol is consumed, the pleasure is very limited and the uncontrollable cascade of relapse is much less likely. If opioids are used, it can block their effects.
Why is the elimination of cravings important?
The freedom from the physical cravings for alcohol and drugs is critical. By removing the intrusive compulsion to drink or use, patients can refocus on their life, their relationships, their family, and the long term psychosocial-behavioral aspect of the recovery. It is of particular importance during the first six months of recovery.