December 27, 2012

Alcohol Dependence: “Can Naltrexone Help?”


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One of the questions you may want to ask when you are considering a Boston rehabilitation center is, “what is your philosophy about the use of Naltrexone in alcohol treatment?”

If you haven’t heard of it already, Naltrexone is the first drug ever approved by the FDA that effectively reduces the drinker’s craving for alcohol. Naltrexone hydrochloride is sold as the brand name Revia and Depade. An extended-release, injectable form of Naltrexone is marketed as Vivitrol for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Several studies demonstrated that the monthly injection form of Naltrexone was more effective in maintaining abstinence over the pill because it eliminates the problem of medication compliance.

“Isn’t Naltrexone for Opioid Addiction?”

Naltrexone was originally used to block the effects of drugs known as opioids. As an opioid receptor antagonist, Naltrexone works by blocking the normal reaction of the part of the brain that produces the feeling of pleasure when opioids such as heroin or cocaine are taken. Essentially, Naltrexone competes with opioids for space on receptors in the brain, interfering with the drugs’ pleasurable effects. In the case of alcohol dependence, medical researchers believe that Naltrexone also blocks the ability of alcohol to stimulate the release of “feel good” endorphins. The craving or obsessive “chase of the high” is suppressed. Simultaneously, it allows the natural production and release of endorphins.

“Is Naltroxone All I Need?”

Any Boston rehabilitation center you speak with will probably tell you that Naltrexone does not eliminate the need for other forms of treatment. Naltrexone is only one component of a comprehensive treatment plan that will likely include individual therapy, family counseling, 12-Step Programs, and more. Studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry indicate that Naltrexone significantly improves the possibility of successful recovery when used in conjunction with other treatment approaches and recovery tools.

“Will Naltrexone Get Me Sober?”

No. Anti-craving drugs can’t do it alone. Naltrexone can only assist and fortify your own efforts to get sober. In fact, Naltrexone is prescribed only after a person has stopped drinking alcohol or taking opioids for seven to 10 days on their own. This is because it can cause serious withdrawal symptoms if taken while someone is still using. Personal motivation, willingness and desire to get sober are the foundation upon which Naltrexone, and other recovery tools can work.  One recovery center notes that “when taken by persons motivated to stop drinking who also participate in personal and group counseling sessions, alcoholics find that they’re able to attain and maintain their sobriety even after they complete the program.” 

“What are the Facts about Naltrexone?”

  1.  In pill form, Naltrexone is usually prescribed to be taken once a day.
  2.  Within one hour of ingestion, the need to drink will be dramatically reduced or eliminated.
  3.  It is generally prescribed for 12 weeks to help people who have stopped drinking to reduce the craving for alcohol during the early period of abstinence when the risk of relapse is greatest.
  4.  The probably of relapse is greatly reduced with the use of Naltrexone.
  5.  It can be used on an outpatient basis or as an inpatient, depending on the type of Boston rehabilitation center chosen.
  6.  It’s non-addictive. Naltrexone causes neither psychological or psychological dependence.
  7.  Unlike the drug Antabuse, Naltrexone does not cause adverse physical reactions.
  8.  It reduces the drinker’s tolerance to alcohol.
  9.  It eliminates the euphoric high associated with alcohol


The Key to Naltrexone’s Success? Your Own Motivation.

You will need the desire to get sober, and the willingness to take Naltrexone as prescribed to make it work for you. When used as prescribed, Naltrexone can give you a jump-start on the road to recovery by reducing or eliminating the obsessive physical craving and compulsive thinking about alcohol. Alcoholism is considered a 3-fold disease: physical, emotional and spiritual.  Naltrexone’s help with the physical aspect of addiction can allow the alcoholic to better focus on the emotional and spiritual parts of recovery.

Do you know anyone who has used Naltrexone?

Do you think their ability to get sober was enhanced by the use of Naltrexone?

If you’re looking for a Boston rehabilitation center that can assist you with drug or alcohol dependency, ask them about Naltrexone. At Right Turn, our addiction specialists would be happy to talk with you about the value of Naltrexone in recovery strategies.





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