Naltrexone is a United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication used to treat opioid use disorders or alcohol use disorders.
Naltrexone is one part of a treatment plan and may be combined with counseling and behavioral health interventions for a whole-person approach to substance abuse treatment.
What Is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone, also known by the brand name Vivitrol, is a medication often used in pharmacotherapy and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat addiction.
Naltrexone comes in three forms:
- a pill
- an injectable solution
- an extended-release injectable naltrexone
The extended-release form of naltrexone is a long-acting medication approved for use only for those who can refrain from alcohol or opioid use for at least several days before treatment begins.
Due to this limitation, this form of naltrexone is usually only given as a treatment after detox to help people maintain their sobriety.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uses medications in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling.
MAT is extremely effective in the treatment of alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders to help individuals sustain their recovery and prevent relapse.
There are four drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence: naltrexone, methadone, Suboxone, and buprenorphine.
How Does Naltrexone Support Addiction Recovery?
All forms of naltrexone work to stop the sense of euphoria and sedation caused by central nervous system depressants, including opioids and alcohol.
Naltrexone binds to opioid receptors and acts as an opioid antagonist.
When a person on naltrexone relapses, the drug won’t bind to the opioid receptor, so they will not experience the high normally associated with opioids or the relaxed feeling associated with alcohol.
By blocking the addictive effects of central nervous system depressants, naltrexone helps to break down the addictive cycle created by stimulating the reward center of the brain.
Naltrexone Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center
Bedrock Recovery Center offers naltrexone treatment through a team of health care providers who oversee the prescription of the drug and ongoing treatment.
What Substance Use Disorders Is Naltrexone Used For?
Naltrexone is used to treat both alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders. Naltrexone is only helpful when it is used as a part of a substance abuse treatment program.
It is crucial that you attend counseling sessions, support group meetings, and any other treatments recommended by your healthcare professional as a part of your opioid treatment program.
When Is Naltrexone Prescribed At Bedrock?
Clinicians may prescribe naltrexone for MAT treatment at Bedrock if you are seeking treatment for opioid or alcohol addiction.
Clients are typically only eligible for naltrexone treatment if they have been able to sustain their sobriety for seven to ten days prior to beginning naltrexone treatment.
Without this period of detoxification, naltrexone can cause an immediate and severe withdrawal symptoms, which can be life threatening to the client.
Once a client begins MAT at Bedrock, they will join weekly MAT groups.
How Long Does Naltrexone Treatment Last?
Naltrexone treatment typically lasts for three to four months.
Individuals still in inpatient treatment at a treatment center or undergoing outpatient treatment
still need to be monitored after stopping the use of naltrexone.
What Are Common Side Effects Of Naltrexone Treatment?
There are a variety of common side effects experienced during naltrexone treatment, including nausea and headache.
Other common side effects may include:
- decreased appetite
- painful joints
- muscle cramps
- cold-like symptoms
- trouble sleeping
These symptoms are often mild and resolve within a few days to a few weeks of treatment.
There are uncommon adverse side effects that may be experienced by some individuals using naltrexone.
These serious side effects include:
- severe reactions at the site of injection
- liver damage
- dark urine
- stomach pain
- yellowing of the whites of the eyes
- skin rash
- swelling of the face, eyes, mouth, or tongue
- trouble breathing
- chest pain
- depressed mood
Due to the fact that naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, the risk of opioid overdose is high.
Individuals who try to overcome the blocking effect of the medication by taking large amounts of opioids may experience serious injury, coma, or death.
Supportive Therapies For Naltrexone Treatment At Bedrock
There are a variety of supportive treatment options used in conjunction with Naltrexone treatment at Bedrock. These treatment services are available at all Bedrock treatment facilities.
Our clinicians facilitate group therapy to encourage productive discussion between peers. Peers are encouraged to participate with, educate, and support one another.
Group therapy seeks to validate the individual and support them by surrounding them with individuals who have similar life experiences.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy type that teaches individuals how their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are related to opioid dependence or other substance use.
CBT helps individuals develop coping skills, including recognizing negative thoughts and mindfulness.
CBT seeks to help individuals identify risk factors for relapse and explore how behavioral changes can reduce the risk of relapsing.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapy that teaches those in treatment how to regulate their emotions.
DBT seeks to help individuals learn more about how to use coping skills to reduce unhealthy behaviors such as drug use.
DBT also helps the individual to understand and accept difficult feelings and enables them to make positive changes in their lives.
Begin Medication-Assisted Treatment In Massachusetts
If you or a loved one are looking to begin medication-assisted treatment in Massachusetts, we can help.
Contact our treatment team at Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more about our treatment programs and addiction treatment centers.
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) https://adf.org.au/drug-facts/naltrexone/
- Food And Drug Administration (FDA) https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat/
- Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/talking-therapy-and-counselling/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-dbt/#:~:text=DBT%20often%20uses%20telephone%20crisis,or%20wanting%20to%20self-harm)/
- National Library Of Medicine: Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a685041.html/
- Substance Abuse And Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/naltrexone/
- Substance Abuse And Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/sma14-4892r.pdf/
- University Of Arkansas For Medical Sciences https://psychiatry.uams.edu/clinical-care/cast/what-is-naltrexone/