Naltrexone blocks the sedative and euphoric effects that opioids produce, so the person taking it doesn’t get the high it is used to achieving. This is so the individual’s brain can reset itself without the addictive drug, and the person’s cravings subside. The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, approved the use of naltrexone to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. If someone is using medically-assisted withdrawal with methadone or buprenorphine for detox, they have to be entirely off it to start naltrexone.
The drug can be given in pill form daily or as an injectable once a month. Naltrexone works differently than methadone or buprenorphine, which activates opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings. With naltrexone, it binds and blocks opioid receptors, which helps reduce opioid cravings, and there’s no worry of abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has more information on using these medical-assisted medications for opioid abuse.
There are effective treatments for addiction, but the first step on the road to recovery is to recognize there is a problem. Sometimes, when a person denies they have a problem, families and concerned friends may stage an intervention for prompt treatment—particularly if the addicted person is harming themselves or others. It’s important to get a physician’s assessment and diagnosis, then a treatment plan can be formulated, whether that means outpatient rehab, inpatient, or at-home treatment.
Rehabilitation often includes medications used to control drug cravings and therapy that can help addicted individuals understand their motivations and behavior, develop better self-esteem, cope with anxiety and stress, and address other mental problems.