The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved naltrexone. Its primary use is for the treatment of alcohol and opioid use disorder.
Naltrexone prevents alcohol and drug abuse by lowering drug cravings. This is how it aids those in recovery in maintaining long-term abstinence.
But is naltrexone a controlled substance?
If you want to learn more about naltrexone and substance abuse, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’re sharing everything you need to know about naltrexone. You’ll also learn if it’s one of the many controlled substances out there.
Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance?
No, naltrexone is not classified as a controlled substance.
Since it inhibits euphoric effects in the brain, naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. It cannot cause addiction or produce a “high.”
Naltrexone assists in the treatment of patients with opioid use disorder. It also helps with alcohol dependency. It is typically dispensed by a physician. When paired with coaching or counseling, it’s a great plan for recovery.
For treating opioid addiction and alcohol addiction, naltrexone is quite successful.
Naltrexone works best when paired with other components of a comprehensive treatment program. Consider counseling, coaching, behavioral treatments, and aftercare programs for greater success.
Long-acting intramuscular injections of naltrexone (known as Vivitrol) and pills are the two methods for taking naltrexone. As of now, there is no generic version of Vivitrol.
When treating alcoholism or an opioid use problem, Vivitrol helps to avoid relapse. Patients who struggle to follow the oral tablet treatment plan may find it helpful.
With one injection of Vivitrol, cravings dwindle for generally a whole month.
Only licensed specialty pharmacies carry Vivitrol. They will send the medication to your doctor each month before your injection. Your doctor will assist you in completing the necessary paperwork. He or she will also administer the monthly shots in the office.
Naltrexone pills taken daily are another method of naltrexone therapy. The effects of a 50mg naltrexone tablet will continue for up to 24 hours, though dosage amount will vary among patients.
Naltrexone is accessible by prescription from any medical professional authorized to prescribe medication. You can get the injectable form from a healthcare professional once a month. The pill form is prescribed daily to be taken at home or in a clinical setting.
It’s important that the advantages of the drug outweigh any potential hazards. Those who are considering taking Vivitrol must participate in risk evaluation.
Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder
When treating opioid use disorder, naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids. It does this by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain.
To lower the risk of relapse, this feature works to lessen opioid cravings. It also prevents the intoxicating effects of opioids.
In general, naltrexone therapy is advised for those who have abstained from all opioids for the previous 10–14 days. This precaution is intended to prevent precipitated withdrawal, which manifests as a sudden start of severe withdrawal symptoms.
Naltrexone shouldn’t be used before the completion of a medically supervised opioid withdrawal, often at least 7 to 10 days, as it can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms if you are still using narcotics.
Naltrexone for Alcohol Use Disorder
Naltrexone functions as a treatment for moderate to severe alcohol use disorder. It does so by interacting blocking endorphins, which are the body’s own version of an opioid. This function lowers alcohol cravings and improves the possibility of sustained abstinence or reduced alcohol consumption, so alcohol can be consumed at safe levels and with greater control.
Naltrexone doesn’t make you ill when you drink alcohol, in contrast to disulfiram, also known as Antabuse. Therefore, naltrexone treatment can be started right away with active drinkers.
Because of how naltrexone and opioids interact, it’s crucial for anyone considering using naltrexone for alcohol abuse therapy to let their health care provider know if they are presently taking any opioids or drugs. This will reduce the chance of experiencing rapid withdrawal symptoms.
Codeine, hydrocodone, and other opioid-based medications are some drugs that interact with naltrexone.
Is Naltrexone an Opioid?
Naltrexone binds to opioid receptors in the brain, but unlike buprenorphine and methadone, it does not activate them. As a result, naltrexone is not considered to be a narcotic.
Because of this characteristic, naltrexone is a safe drug with no risk of abuse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes naltrexone as a medication that does not lead to physical or psychological dependence or addiction and is not habit-forming.
When taken as directed, long-term naltrexone use seldom results in serious health issues. But some people have reportedly had some negative effects from naltrexone during the initial phase of treatment.
Side Effects of Naltrexone
The majority of naltrexone’s side effects are minor and go away on their own in the vast majority of patients. However, it’s crucial to consult a health care provider right away if any side effects intensify or continue.
Among the most common side effects of naltrexone are:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Painful joints
- Muscle cramps
Before stopping naltrexone therapy owing to side effects, it’s crucial to consult your health care provider. Your health care provider may solve the problem by changing your dosage. They also may recommend an additional drug to resolve side effects while still taking naltrexone.
Although naltrexone may have infrequent but severe side effects, these side effects should be brought to the attention of your health care provider promptly.
Naltrexone’s more severe side effects, which are rare, could include:
- Depressed mood
- Serious allergic reactions
- Liver damage or hepatitis
- Severe injection site reactions
If you notice any of these symptoms, stop taking naltrexone. See your health care provider immediately because these side effects are severe. Your health could be compromised if you ignore severe side effect symptoms.
Sudden Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome
In addition to side effects, naltrexone carries the danger of triggered withdrawal symptoms. This is Sudden Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome and is a frustrating and difficult experience to deal with.
When naltrexone is taken when opioids are still present in your body, this syndrome develops. You will feel ill. Patients may be asked to complete an assessment. The SOWS (subject opiate withdrawal scale) is a self-administered scale for determining opioid withdrawal symptoms. It identifies 16 symptoms the intensity for each the patient rates on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 4 (extreme), and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.Taking naltrexone while there are traces of opioids in the bloodstream can also result in opioid withdrawals because it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and rapidly blocks their effects.
Prior to starting naltrexone therapy for opioid abuse, it is advised that patients wait at least seven days after finishing their last dose of short-acting opioids and 10–14 days after finishing their last dose of long-acting opioids.
Additionally, patients must give their health care provider a list of all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications they are currently taking because some of them include opioids.
Risk of Overdose While on Naltrexone
Although naltrexone by itself has no risk of resulting in an overdose, this risk increases if users take excessive amounts of opioids to get around naltrexone’s blocking effects. As naltrexone wears off, it can increase the sensitivity to opioids and the risk of an opioid overdose.
Overdosing on opioids is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If Narcan/naloxone is accessible in the event of an opioid overdose, give it to the victim. Then, call 911 or the National Poison Control Center right away.
Put the overdose victim in the recovery position if they are still unconscious. This will prevent them from choking on their own vomit. Remain by their side until the paramedics show up.
The Sinclair Method
At Alcure, we utilize a practice known as the Sinclair Method.
The Sinclair Method involves targeted dosing of naltrexone which gradually eliminates alcohol use disorder. Patients take natlrexone tablets as-needed and timed so that the blocking effects of the medication coincide with being under the influence of alcohol.
By pairing the blocking action of naltrexone with alcohol in the bloodstream, the brain will eventually learn that alcohol no longer provides as strong a rewarding effect, and the desire or cravings for alcohol dissipate over time.
According to Clifford Fields, D.O., Emergency and Addiction Medicine, “Medication assisted treatment with naltrexone, the Sinclair Method, appears to be the most effective treatment for alcohol use disorder at this time.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s time to consider the Sinclair Method. This method could help you reduce your dependency on alcohol, reduce alcohol consumption to safe levels or live a life of complete sobriety if you choose, and live life to the very fullest!
Now You Know The Answer to “Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance?”
Is naltrexone a controlled substance? Simply put: No, it is not.
Naltrexone helps suppress opioid cravings and promotes long-term abstinence from opioids and alcohol. Using naltrexone to overcome alcohol use disorder following the Sinclair Method involves the timed or as-needed dosing of naltrexone while drinking alcohol to acclimate the body so that, over time, cravings for alcohol melt away naturally with no withdrawal symptoms.
We’re here to help you regain your confidence and move forward toward the future you want. Adults with alcohol use disorder can receive therapy from us and get back the life they want and deserve.