Sunday, July 14th, 2024

Naltrexone Use



Naltrexone Use

Naltrexone is an opioid receptor blocker that is used mainly in the treatment of alcohol dependency and opioid dependency. It reduces cravings for alcohol and it blocks the effects of opiates. The efficacy of naltrexone use to treat addiction is debatable, because in most cases, it shows poor patient adherence.

Naltrexone Use for Alcohol Dependency

Naltrexone use is implemented primarily in the treatment of alcohol dependency and addiction. When a person drinks alcohol, a certain opioid in the brain is enhanced. It is part of the reason for the “high” of alcohol use, and the pain killing powers of alcohol. It reduces craving for alcohol.

A form of naltrexone that is injected intramuscularly has been developed to treat alcohol dependency. These are “depot” type injections- one injection a month delivers a steady stream of the drug until the next injection. The brand name of the drug is Vivitrol, and it was developed primarily because oral naltrexone use shows such poor patient adherence.

Naltrexone Use for Opioid Dependence

Naltrexone use for opioid dependence works in a different way than it does for alcohol dependence. With alcohol dependence, naltrexone reduces craving for alcohol. Naltrexone use for opioid dependence blocks the effects of opioids. It doesn’t have much effect on craving. The result is even poorer patient adherence. A person can take the oral drug, then when craving becomes intense, simply stop taking it and resume abuse of opioids.

Because of poor patient adherence to naltrexone use for opioid dependency, the intramuscular injection form of the drug, Vivitrol, can be useful. However, opioid addicts can simply skip their monthly dose of naltrexone too, so the newest form is an under the skin implant that lasts several months.

It’s important to note that while naltrexone use will prevent opiates from producing a “high” it will do nothing to treat withdrawal symptoms.

Naltrexone Use for Rapid Opiate Detox

Rapid opiate detox is a procedure by which a patient is sedated and given naltrexone to quickly clear the system of opiates. The procedure takes place in the intensive care unit of a hospital because patients must be closely monitored. Without the proper care and observation, this process can be deadly because it is such a shock to the system.

Afterward, patients are given a regimen of naltrexone to prevent relapse. There is no evidence, however, that rapid opiate detox is any more effective than standard opiate detox, and it is far more risky.

Naltrexone Use to Prevent Abuse of Buprenorphine

The standard in care for treating opioid withdrawal is buprenorphine. This is a long-acting partial opioid receptor agonist. It will treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but it has a lower addiction potential than that of methadone. Sometimes, buprenorphine formulations are used long-term for the treatment of opioid dependence. In one of the formulations-Suboxone, naltrexone is added to the buprenorphine to prevent abuse. If the drug is taken as prescribed-sublingually, the naltrexone is deactivated by the digestive system. If the drug is abused and used intravenously, the naltrexone blocks the effect of the buprenorphine and the user does not get the effect of the opioid.