NALTREXONE FOR ALCOHOLISM TREATMENT
- Initially, Naltrexone was used to treat opioid addiction, including heroin treatment. Recovering addicts taking Naltrexone no longer experienced the pleasurable sensations association with opioid use, and were therefore less motivated to continue drug abuse. It was discovered that the same was true for alcoholics. Although the exact mechanism is not entirely understood, the brain interacts with alcohol in a very similar manner to how it reacts with opioids, and Naltrexone also suppresses the euphoria and pleasurable sensations of alcohol. Alcoholics no longer receive a “reward” for drinking once they are on Naltrexone and are therefore less likely to continue consumption.
- Although Naltrexone has a lengthy history of success treating alcoholism, it is not sufficient when taken alone. Naltrexone does not reduce the cravings for alcohol, nor does it reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Naltrexone is most effective when taken in concert with other forms of treatment, including other medications, therapy, counseling, and 12-step programs. One area where Naltrexone has proven especially useful is in the treatment of alcoholics who have relapsed.
- Naltrexone is absorbed by the body through the liver, and may cause liver damage at high doses. This may both limit its effectiveness and make it dangerous to take for patients suffering from alcohol-related liver damage.