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Naltrexone is used along with counseling and social support in the treatment of alcohol addiction and for the management of opioid addiction. Naltrexone is used to help avoid the usage of drugs and alcohol, but it will not prevent/ relieve the withdrawal symptoms that may occur after stopping the use of drugs and alcohol. It is thus used as a maintenance therapy for abstinence from alcohol or opioids during addiction withdrawal.

How it works

Naltrexone belongs to a class of medicines called opioid antagonists. Naltrexone decreases the craving for alcohol or opioid by acting on specific opioid receptors in the brain. It reduces the feeling of euphoria previously experienced after taking opioids or large amounts of alcohol.

Common side effects

Vomiting, Nausea, Nervousness, Acne-like rash, Anxiety, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Drowsiness, Dizziness, Headache, Impotence, Insomnia, Irritation, Loss of appetite, Muscle pain, Joint pain, Stomach pain, Stomach cramp, Tachycardia, Teary eyes, Weakness


Expert advice

  • Do not consume opioid (opioid free) for a minimum of 7-10 days before starting naltrexone therapy. Your doctor may perform naloxone challenge test (a diagnosis for chronic opiate abuse) before starting the treatment with naltrexone.
  • Do not consume opioid derivatives while on naltrexone treatment.
  • Naltrexone is not recommended in children.
  • Inform your doctor if you are taking or have recently taken any medications for diarrhea, cough, pain, or disulfiram and thioridazine.
  • Do not drive or operate machine as you may feel dizzy or tired.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Can you take naltrexone forever?
No, naltrexone must be taken as long as prescribed by your doctor.
Q. Can you take naltrexone with Xanax (alprazolam)?
Caution has to be exercised when naltrexone is taken with alprazolam and its derivatives.
Q. Can you take naltrexone with suboxone (naloxone and buprenorphine)/ Subtex (buprenorphine)?
No, both suboxone and subtext are used in opioid withdrawal. Hence they should not be taken with naltrexone, as an additive effect leading to side effects may occur. Always follow the instructions of the doctor.
Q. Does naltrexone make you high/ sleepy?
No, naltrexone does not make you high but, may rarely make you sleepy.
Q. Does naltrexone help with pain/ for weight loss?
Naltrexone has no known effects on pain and is not indicated for weight loss.
Q. Does naltrexone help with opiate cravings?
Yes, naltrexone helps reduce opiate cravings.
Q. Does naltrexone test positive for opiates?
No, naltrexone does not test positive for opiates.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)