Naltrexone for Alcoholism

Like most treatment medications, Naltrexone is a prescription medication and should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. Although Naltrexone is not known to interact adversely with alcohol, it should only be prescribed after the patient has already ceased use entirely and completed the detox process. Because of certain side effects, Naltrexone should only be prescribed after the physician is sure that the patient’s liver is functioning properly and the patient is not pregnant. Baclofen’s significant adverse side effects include drowsiness, sedation, headache, vertigo, confusion, perspiration, muscle stiffness and/or abnormal movements, slurred speech, and numbness [86,87,88].

  • None of the medications used to treat AUD have been proven completely safe during pregnancy or lactation, so they should be used cautiously in women of childbearing age.
  • If you are developing your own symptoms of depression or anxiety, think about seeking professional help for yourself.
  • Topiramate facilitates GABA function and antagonizes glutamate, which should decrease mesocorticolimbic dopamine after alcohol and reduce cravings.

If you plan to reduce your drinking slowly (no more than 25% every 3 days), then it is quite possible to get off alcohol without medication. It is best to see medication as another tool for addressing AUD, helping you achieve a faster outcome, reducing your risk, and promoting overall health along the way. Prescriptions for alcohol abuse tend to target physical addiction symptoms, cravings, brain chemistry, and common drinking triggers such as anxiety and insomnia.

How is alcohol use disorder treated?

Some may view binge-drinking as harmless because the habit is widespread and a low percentage of binge drinkers are dependent on alcohol, according to experts. Nearly half of American drinkers reported bingeing, defined as more than four drinks in a sitting for men and more than three for women, in the previous month, according to a U.S. government health survey. Ever wake up regretting the last round of drinks from the previous night? Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.

The way this process works is when people normally drink alcohol, endorphins are released into the brain, and this reinforces the behavior of drinking alcohol. Much like when Pavlov’s dogs were presented with food when a bell was rung, these dogs became conditioned to salivate at the sound of the bell alone. However, when these dogs continued to be presented with the ringing bell and no food, the salivating stopped. With the Sinclair Method, people only take Revia or Vivitrol before drinking and never otherwise. Revia and Vivitrol are not like other anti-alcohol drugs that cause intense sickness and hangover sensations when taken with alcohol. In 2001, David Sinclair, PhD, a researcher in Finland claimed an 80 percent cure rate for alcohol dependence when anti-alcohol drugs Revia or Vivitrol are prescribed according to his Sinclair Method.


Preclinically, ibudilast was demonstrated to reduce alcohol intake in two rat models, and decreased drinking selectively in alcohol-dependent mice in comparison to non-dependent mice [188]. These preclinical findings align with prior rodent studies in which pharmacological inhibition of PDE also reduced alcohol intake [189,190,191]. Aripiprazole is an sober house antipsychotic drug that acts as a partial agonist at the dopamine D2 and 5-HT1A receptors and as an antagonist at the 5-HT2A receptor [150]. Preclinically, aripiprazole has been shown to reduce ethanol-induced place preference and decrease drinking behaviors in mice [151], as well as reducing alcohol consumption in alcohol-preferring rats [152, 153].

How does naltrexone make you feel?

This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. If any of these side effects occur, do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert while you are taking naltrexone.

Naltrexone, the best-studied of these three commonly approved medications, was originally approved to treat opioid use disorder. Naltrexone is an antagonist of the mu opioid receptor (with additional affinity for kappa and delta opioid receptors). By attenuating alcohol-induced opioidergic activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system, opioid antagonists like naltrexone, modulate the rewarding effects of alcohol (mediated by dopamine), thereby reducing alcohol consumption [50, 51]. However, adherence management issues limit the utility of disulfiram in the treatment of AUD, and the disulfiram-ethanol interaction can sometimes present as a medical emergency. Therefore, disulfiram is only recommended in the maintenance of abstinence; using this medication to reduce drinking is not advised [34]. Some people are at a higher risk for developing alcohol use disorder, including people who began drinking before they turned 15, those who binge drink, and those with a family history of alcohol misuse or mental health issues.

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In fact, many programs focus on specific addictions and offer complementary types of therapy. Many inpatient and outpatient rehab centers offer naltrexone as an injection. The injectable form, sold under the brand name Vivitrol, is administered into the muscle once a month. Patients may experience tenderness, pain, swelling or redness at the injection area for a few days afterwards. The injectable form is a good alternative to taking a pill every day; however, it’s important to stay on a consistent schedule – every four weeks – when using an injection. Call a treatment provider now to learn more about medication-assisted therapy and start your journey to sobriety.

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