Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. This means that it has opposite effect in the brain from those of opioids. Opioids work in the brain by attaching to special receptors, creating effects such as pain relief and euphoria. Naltrexone works by also attaching to these same receptors, and additionally, naltrexone has a higher affinity for these receptors. This means that if both opioids and naltrexone are present in the brain at the same time, the naltrexone will compete for the receptors and win. It’s used an antidote for opioid overdose for this reason. It has saved countless lives.
But naltrexone has another use as well, in the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken as a daily dose, or given as a long-acting injection, naltrexone prevents any high or any kind of opioid effect from taking place in the brain. Only one medication molecule can occupy a brain receptor at a time. Since naltrexone has priority for these receptors over opioids, they will block any opioid response. Taking an opioid while on naltrexone is useless. This is a great preventive tool for former opioid addicts struggling to remain clean.
Naltrexone and Opioid Addiction
Naltrexone has several benefits:
- It prevents any positive reaction to opioids
- It helps the recovering addict to resist temptation
- It can be given in a long-acting injection which needs to be given only a once a month
Naltrexone is extremely effective. It will totally block any opioid response, and the patient knows this ahead of time. What is the point of taking an opioid, if it won’t give what the recovering addict is seeking? This helps the patient to focus on other things, such as work, hobbies and personal relationships. It can definitely help a motivated patient to stay clean.
However, there is a compliance issue. Naltrexone works only if it’s taken as directed. Even an injection intended to last a month will eventually wear off. The motivation to take their daily naltrexone dose or to show up for their monthly injection still rests with the patient. If they elect to stop taking naltrexone, then they are just as prone to the effects of opioids as they were before. But it’s still a good option for many patients in the prevention of relapse.
If you’d like to know more about naltrexone, or if you’re worried about your own possible relapse, please give us a call at: We can help you. It’s what we do. A trained staff person will answer all your questions. Call today 855-782-1009