Alcohol and opioid dependence is a terrible state of affairs to be in. Therefore, people who find themselves in this difficult situation need all the help they can get in order to avoid the life-threatening problems of it.
Taking opioid receptor antagonists is one of the possible ways of countering dependences of the above mentioned types. In fact, Naltrexone is one of the drugs most commonly used for these purposes.
Naltrexone – Opioid Receptor Antagonist
This drug is often found by some of its brand names such as Revia or Depade, mostly used in the US for the treatment of many forms of opioid and alcohol dependencies and all the problems that can be caused by these.
However, you should not mistake this drug for naloxone, being used in cases of drug overdose. Rather, naltraxone is a drug which helps people manage their drug and alcohol dependancies, enabling one a rapid detoxification.
Basically, the drug functions by impairing the consciousness of the patient, removing the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol or opiates. This process can be done while the patient is under general anesthesia, being completely unconscious and requiring external ventilation. Yet, the procedure can also be done while the patient is sedated.
Once the rapid detoxifications is carried out, the addicted patient needs to take Naltrexone for about 12 months, on a daily basis. The drug taken can be provided either through classic, oral methods, or through an Naltrexone implant which is placed in the abdominal area, administering the drug when necessary.
The main flaw of this form of dependency treatment is the low retention, due to the fact that most people who are dependent on certain substances fail or refuse to take naltrexone voluntarily. Also, the price of the therapy is considered quite high, making Naltrexone solution unavailable to many who cannot afford it.
Nevertheless, this form of treatment holds great promise and is still undergoing a process of evolution. Yet, it is only a short-term form of protection against the withdrawal symptoms of dependencies. Regular administering is necessary for going through with the long-term therapy and this can be motivated and stimulated through a combination of Naltrexone and some psychosocial forms of therapy.
As far as the reported effectiveness of this drug is concerned, 50mg were given to a group of completely mentally stable patients, over a course of 12 weeks, combined with certain psychotherapeutic methods. A random number of 104 alcohol-dependent patients received either a placebo or the actual medication. Yet, while 51% of improvements were related to naltrexone, only 23% were due to the placebo effect, bearing witness of the potential of this form of treatment.
Side-Effects from Naltrexone
In general, Naltrexone is considered to be a safe drug, even though adequate medical control and observation of the patients' livers may be required during the initial stage of treatments.
However, even though many people suffered from no side-effects, others have experience some adverse reactions to this medication. Thus, anxiety, appetite loss, chills, constipation, ejaculation problems, dizziness, diarrhea, drowsiness, dizziness, negative sensations, headaches, increased energy levels, thirst, nervousness, pain in the muscles, lack of energy, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps, all are considered to be standard side-effects of this drug, expected to appear. If you happen to notice any of these after taking Naltrexone, seek medical assistance and consult with your doctor about the best possible steps you can take in these situations.
On the other hand, the following reactions to this medication require immediate medical assistance. These are the appearance of some severe allergic reactions such as rashes, hives, itching, breathing problems, chest tightness, swelling in the mouth, tongue, face or lip area, stomach pain, cramps, dark urine or yellowing of the skin or the eyes. Additionally, all occurrences of unusual or unexplainable tiredness or fatigue are to be taken seriously, as well as the onset of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, since all these can be attributed to Naltrexone, being some of the most serious adverse effects of this drug. Finally, if you notice white bowel movement or start vomiting without any other explanations for this occurrence, react immediately and seek medical support.
Note that this drug can lead to many other side-effects. Thus, while using it, pay attention to the symptoms you undergo and make sure you do not ignore any of them, especially some of the above mentioned, serious ones.
But, bear in mind that side-effect of naltrexone, according to numerous medical studies, appear in only 2% of all cases. Out of these, about 10% are related to nausea, 7% to headaches, 4% to dizziness and 2% to anxiety. The adverse effects were more prominent in subjects exposed to placebo, making Naltrexone even safer.
All in all, Naltrexone is a medication used for treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. It is a generally safe drug which was found to be most effective when combined with certain psychosocial forms of therapy.