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Mixing Naltrexone and Alcohol

Picture showing the adverse effects of using naltrexone

Naltrexone is a medication-assisted treatment to help people craving alcohol or opiates. Medical professionals recommend using naltrexone while abstaining from alcohol because mixing naltrexone with alcohol can cause specific problems. 

When you consume alcohol, naltrexone prevents intoxication’s pleasurable effects and sensations. As a result, individuals with alcohol use disorders can reduce their drinking habits. However, naltrexone won’t stop you from getting drunk and losing control of yourself. 

The use of naltrexone while intoxicated is not a good idea if you plan to drive or engage in other activities.

What is Naltrexone?

Pure opiate antagonist naltrexone inhibits the body’s opiate receptors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved naltrexone as a treatment option for people with alcohol and opioid use problems. The medication is available as an extended-release injection or as a pill.

The primary objective of naltrexone use is to reduce and suppress intoxicating or opiate drug cravings. Naltrexone does this by attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors (clearing any opiate medications from these receptors) and flattening cravings.

The development of physical dependence is not a side effect of naltrexone. Some people may experience a little bit of abuse potential after using naltrexone. 

Because of this, naltrexone is helpful in instances where people are actively recovering from alcohol use disorders or opiate misuse. But it would help if you had a prescription to obtain it lawfully.

Side Effects of Naltrexone

Most of the time, naltrexone is safe and has few side effects. But every medicine has a list of potential negative effects. The adverse effects of naltrexone are relatively uncommon and do occur occasionally.

Some of the potential and most frequently reported adverse effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Vertigo
  • Sleep disturbances

Most potential adverse effects may go away with time without any treatment. You should not take opioids if you are taking naltrexone.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist; therefore, people who use opiates and take naltrexone may experience symptoms of opioid withdrawal. 

According to the recommendations of the FDA, naltrexone users should abstain from opioids for a week to ten days.

People who use naltrexone and opioid medications simultaneously for psychoactive effects won’t get the typical “high” that they receive from opiate drugs. 

The reason behind this is that naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. Most people may overdose on opiates due to consuming more opiate drugs than they would normally.

Naltrexone as Alcohol Abuse Treatment

The mixture of naltrexone with alcohol does not appear to pose any substantial risks. 

According to data from FDA and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), people who use naltrexone and consume alcohol:

  • Will continue to have problems with slowed thinking speeds
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Slower response times
  • May feel less of a desire to consume more alcohol
  • May cut back on alcohol consumption
  • Other alcohol-related problems

According to some studies, evidence points to naltrexone’s effectiveness in lowering alcohol consumption but not in encouraging alcohol use. 

The participants in the studies frequently continued to consume naltrexone while drinking alcohol. The researchers observed neither substantial nor unsafe side effects of the mixing.

The Sinclair Method, a method for treating alcohol use disorders, advises patients to take naltrexone roughly an hour before consuming alcohol.

In comparison to the recommended use of naltrexone, you should avoid drinking alcohol in the morning if you are taking naltrexone.

One research study suggests that taking the medication an hour before drinking alcohol reduces alcohol cravings and intake. 

Dr. Sinclair, who developed the Sinclair Method, claimed that using naltrexone in this way before consuming alcohol is substantially effective. Naltrexone is more helpful at lowering alcohol use than aiding the person in becoming or maintaining alcohol abstinence.

Effects of Mixing Naltrexone and Alcohol

Drinking is less pleasurable while taking naltrexone. You might discover that you aren’t as enthusiastic about drinking as you once were. Alcohol consumption may not seem enticing. Additionally, you might experience fewer cravings or spend less time considering alcohol.

The mixing of naltrexone with alcohol is not substantially risky. 

The combination will not:

  • Depending on how much alcohol you have consumed cause you to become more or less drunk
  • Cause the person to have a violent illness similar to how Antabuse (disulfiram) causes it
  • Reduce the immediate consequences of alcohol misuse
  • Reduce any long-term consequences of alcohol misuse, such as: liver damage, cardiovascular damage, renal impairment, or an increased risk of cancer
  • Reduce any cognitive issues because of alcohol drinkings, such as poor judgment and mood swings

Effects of Mixing Naltrexone and Opiates

Patients should wait at least one week after the last use of short-term opioids and two weeks after the previous use of long-acting opioids before commencing naltrexone to lower the risk of OUD withdrawal symptoms.

Most side effects that appear early in naltrexone treatment are gastrointestinal, including nausea, vomiting, and pain or discomfort in the stomach. 

In clinical trials, most reports of side effects—including headache and fatigue—were associated with these three conditions. Up to 30% of individuals experienced these symptoms, typically minor in strength.

Naltrexone has a possible link to liver damage, particularly in overweight people taking large doses of the medication (100 to 300 mg daily). These issues forced FDA to require a black-box warning, which is now printed on the package insert.

Patients physiologically dependent on opiates may experience an abrupt and severe withdrawal reaction from naltrexone. 

Before the medical use of naltrexone, a clinical assessment of opiate use is necessary, such as an opiate-drug screening test. Patients anticipating a need for opiates may not be appropriate for naltrexone users.

They are stopping oral naltrexone 48 to 72 hours before opiate analgesia is essential. Opiate blocking for patients using injectable naltrexone may last a month or longer. 

High opiate doses can overcome opiate antagonistic effects and produce acute opiate analgesia. However, such therapy requires careful observation by trained professionals because respiratory depression can occur suddenly.

Naltrexone for Withdrawal Symptoms

Each person experiences the withdrawal phase of recovery uniquely. For instance, a few days may pass before some people stop having minimal withdrawal symptoms. 

However, some people may experience severe symptoms that last a lifetime. Medical professionals advise that people enroll in a rehab facility for better treatment options because it is impossible to predict how the body will react during withdrawal.

Among the most typical signs of alcohol withdrawal are:

  • Pain in head
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heavy perspiration and fever

Patients should not be physically dependent on alcohol or drugs before beginning naltrexone for AUD. Medical professionals often postpone the process until after the alcohol detox before administering naltrexone to prevent serious adverse effects like vomiting and nausea.

In the body, naltrexone binds to endorphin receptors to prevent the effects and sensations of alcohol. Naltrexone helps to reduce alcohol cravings and consumption. Taking naltrexone assists individuals in keeping their sobriety once they stop drinking. 

Treatment with naltrexone may last three to four months. Patients who have stopped using naltrexone should still be under the care of the rehab center.

The other opinion of using naltrexone for the treatment of AUD differs from the previous. According to it, although naltrexone has a long history of success in treating alcoholism, taking it alone is insufficient. 

Naltrexone is ineffective in reducing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol cravings.

When naltrexone is combined with other forms of treatment, such as additional drugs, therapy, counseling, and 12-step programs, naltrexone is most effective. The treatment of people with addiction who have relapsed is one area where naltrexone is very effective.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does drinking on naltrexone feel like?

Taking naltrexone makes drinking less enjoyable. You may discover that you aren’t as interested in drinking as you once were. 

The thought of drinking alcohol may seem unattractive. You may also notice that you have fewer desires for alcohol.

Alcohol and naltrexone won’t result in any severe illnesses. It’s crucial to understand that even while naltrexone could make you feel less intoxicated, you will still be impaired. 

If you take naltrexone and subsequently consume alcohol, your coordination and decision-making skills will suffer.
Even if you don’t feel buzzed or drunk, be cautious not to drive or participate in other daily activities.

How does naltrexone work in alcohol dependence?

Naltrexone inhibits the parts of the brain that experience pleasure from alcohol and opioids. When certain parts of your brain are not functioning appropriately, you feel less compelled to consume alcohol and can quit more easily. 

Unlike disulfiram, which is another prescription helpful in treating alcohol addiction, naltrexone doses do not make you ill if you drink while taking it.

You should avoid taking narcotics like morphine, codeine, or heroin while taking naltrexone. While taking naltrexone, do not take any cough treatment containing codeine. 

You must abstain from all narcotics for 48 hours before starting naltrexone. If you don’t, you may get withdrawal symptoms.

What should not be taken with naltrexone?

You will not feel any effect if you try to use opioids by self-testing in modest dosages while on naltrexone. 

Naltrexone reduces euphoric sensations by blocking the abused substance’s euphoric and sedative effects and using excessive doses of any opioid to avoid the blocked effects of naltrexone. 

On the other hand, it can result in severe damage, overdose, coma, or death. When you stop using opioids, you may become more sensitive to lesser dosages, so taking any opioid can be harmful.

Individuals using naltrexone should not:

Use any opioids (for example, morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, tramadol, or hydrocodone)
Take central nervous system depressants such as sedatives, tranquilizers

Can I drink alcohol while taking naltrexone?

When you drink alcohol, naltrexone suppresses intoxication’s pleasurable effects and symptoms. 

This enables patients with alcohol use disorder to reduce their drinking habits sufficiently to remain in treatment, avoid relapses, and take medicine. Your desire for alcohol will diminish over time.

However, naltrexone will not keep you from becoming drunk while drinking. Do not use naltrexone if you intend to drive or engage in other activities while under alcohol.

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist that blocks opiate receptors in the body. It helps treat patients suffering from opioid addiction or alcohol use disorder in conjunction with a medically supervised behavior modification program.

Get Medical Advice from Haven Detox-New England to Resist Addiction

Heavy drinking of alcohol is not only mentally harmful but physically as well. Even a tiny amount of alcohol may have adverse reactions. Medical professionals recommend against the use of medications while drinking. 

Haven Detox-New England is your best option for drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

Our rehab center is the hub of addiction treatment, including opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. The unique therapy under the supervision of a qualified team makes us proud to assist you in a residential environment

Visit our facility and start your journey towards an addiction-free life.

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