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Naltrexone for Alcoholism. Can It Help You Quit Drinking?
If you go to your doctor to ask for help with an alcohol problem, one course of action that she might suggest is a period of treatment on the drug Naltrexone.
There are very few medical treatments for the long term management of alcoholism. One medication that is sometimes used to help people quit drinking is Naltrexone. Here is some basic information on a medication that you may have heard about or that your doctor may be recommending. Links to more comprehensive and in-depth readings on the medication are provided at the bottom of the page.
This is not medical advice by the way, cause I aint' no Doctor!! It's just a summary of my research and understanding on the medication. I hope it helps you to understand your treatment options, but you should always rely on your doctor for best advice.
What Does Naltrexone Do?
Naltrexone is sometimes confused with disulfiram (Antabuse) which is an older medication for the treatment of alcoholism. If you drink while taking disulfiram you will get violently ill. Naltrexone does not work in this way, and if you drink alcohol after having taken Naltrexone you will not get sick.
What the medication does is change the way parts of your brain respond to alcohol.
People drink alcohol in part because it makes them feel good. Alcohol stimulates pleasure centers of the brain. Naltrexone stops alcohol from stimulating these pleasure centers.
If you drink alcohol while on Naltrexone, you won’t get sick, but you also won't feel any of the pleasures of drinking.
The medication also seems to reduce the experience of alcohol cravings, although it is not entirely understood how it does this.
So in summary, Naltrexone will reduce your urges to drink, and if you do drink alcohol, you won’t feel any pleasure from it – and will likely drink much less.
Is Naltrexone Effective?
There are no magic solutions for alcoholism and Naltrexone is certainly not a guaranteed cure. It does seem to offer some help though.
In the Federal Govt. Combine Study of substance abuse treatment effectiveness's, Naltrexone was shown to be about equally effective to 20 sessions of alcohol abuse counseling in reducing consumption.
Other studies have shown that Naltrexone increases abstinence rates over non treated abstainers by about 20%.
So - it does work and it does help, but it is probably best used in conjunction with other behavioral treatments for addiction, such as counseling or AA etc. and not as a stand-alone treatment.
Naltrexone seems to be a pretty well tolerated medication. Some side effects sometimes experienced include:
In one study of the medication, negative side effects were severe enough to cause 10% of users to stop taking the drug.
Naltrexone may cause liver damage, and your doctor will probably want to take some blood tests before initiating treatment (to make sure your liver is OK) and periodically throughout the course of treatment, to make sure it stays OK.
Some anecdotal reports have indicated that while naltrexone can remove the pleasure from drinking, it may also remove some of the pleasure from other otherwise pleasurable activities. (Food, Sex, Fun etc.)
How Long Is Naltrexone Taken For?
A normal course of treatment is 3 months
- Naltrexone or Specialized Alcohol Counseling an Effective Treatment for Alcohol Dependence When Deli
- Alcohol and Alcohol Addiction Information - DryoutNow.com
Naltrexone - Alcohol Information - provided by DryOutNow.com
- Naltrexone Page