Naltrexone Treatment

Once the Detox is complete, Naltrexone is given to the patient under medical Supervision to prevent relapse to Opiates and alcohol.
Cocaine and ice/amphetamine (under trial). Naltrexone can be given in 3 forms :

Oral tablets, Injections & Implants.

What is Naltrexone and how does it work ?

Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist used primarily in the management of opioid dependence. Naltrexone works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain and therefore, eliminating the effects of heroin, methadone, morphine and other opiates. The effect of Naltrexone is to block the part of your brain that feels pleasure when you use narcotics. Naltrexone does not make you feel sick if take drugs while taking it, but makes it impossible to get high.

Naltrexone implant is inserted under the skin or muscle. Naltrexone implant blocks the effects of heroin, methadone, morphine and other opiates. They gradually release their medication into the blood stream just as if the patient was taking their Naltrexone tablets every day for weeks even months. The opioid receptors are blocked making effect of heroin or other opiates impossible.

Naltrexone depot looks like white or light grey cylinders, balls or tablets in a sterile pre-loaded syringe. Different types of Neltrexone implants (Naltrexone pellets) contain from 500mg of Naltrexone and more. It actively provides relapse protection from 2 up to 12 months.

Small surgical intervention is performed with local anesthesia. It is inserted through a 2-3cm incision in the lower abdomen or at the back of the upper arm. The Naltrexone depot is inserted under the skin or muscle.

Naltrexone is also available in injection form. It is given once in a month for 3-6 months.

Naltrexone is also available in the tablet form which is given everyday for 3-6 months.

Naltrexone is effective in more than 90 percent of the patients. In less than 10 percent patients due to its rapid metabolism or due to unknown causes it fails to block the effect of drugs/opiates.

Advantages of Implants :

  • Makes relapse protection more effective than Naltrexone tablets since taking medicines on daily basis is not required.

  • Avoids the need to supervise Naltrexone administration and the conflicts it can cause.

  • Makes it impossible to 'forget' or to change one’s mind to take Naltrexone pill.

  • Less Naltrexone quantities are required because of stomach and liver transit is excluded.

  • Probably reduces craving even more than oral Naltrexone because the patient’s motivation struggle is over with the Naltrexone depot intervention.

  • Patient is constantly aware of the implant under the skin and is psychologically aware of the protection against of drugs, he feels more peaceful and confident.


  • Involves minor surgery and a small scar with temporary tenderness and bruises.

  • Occasional local inflammation or rejection reaction of implant site, usually responding to antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • Occasional implant dissolve completely after several months, the lump dissipates slowly.

FAQs about Naltrexone

  • Which drugs can be treated by SANR ?

    Drugs like heroin , smack , opium, dode (post) , codeine, syrups like corex & phensydryl. Lomotil, methadone dextropropoxypene capsules or tablets, tramadol, buprenorphine, injection like norphine , morphine , fortwin etc. can be successfully treated by SANR. The above drugs are called opiates.

  • What is naltrexone ?

    Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the effects of drugs known as opioids (a class that includes morphine, heroin or codeine). It competes with these drugs for opioid receptors in the brain. It was originally used to treat dependence on opioid drugs but has recently been approved by the FDA as treatment for alcoholism. In clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of naltrexone, patients who received naltrexone were twice as successful in remaining abstinent and in avoiding relapse as patients who received placebo-an inactive pill.

  • How does naltrexone help in alcoholism ?

    While the precise mechanism of action for naltrexone's effect is unknown, reports from successfully treated patients suggest three kinds of effects. First, naltrexone can reduce craving, which is the urge or desire to drink. Second, naltrexone helps patients remain abstinent. Third, naltrexone can interfere with the tendency to want to drink more if a recovering patient slips and has a drink.

  • If I take naltrexone, does it mean that I don't need other treatment for alcoholism ?

    Naltrexone is only one component of a program of treatment for alcoholism. In addition to this counselling, social support and treatment by a trained psychiatrist / de-addiction expert is required.

  • How long does naltrexone take to work ?

    Naltrexone's effects on blocking opioids occurs shortly after taking the first dose. Findings to date suggest that the effects of naltrexone in helping patients remain abstinent and avoid relapse to alcohol use also occur early.

  • Are there some people who should not take naltrexone ?

    Naltrexone should not be used in pregnant women, individuals with severe liver or kidney damage or with patients who cannot achieve abstinence for at least 5 days prior to initiating medications. Also, people who are dependent on opioid drugs, like heroin or morphine must stop their drug use at least 7 days prior to starting naltrexone.

  • What does it feel like to be on naltrexone ?

    Patients don't feel either "high" or "down" while they are on naltrexone.

  • What are the side effects of naltrexone ?

    In the largest study, the most common side effect of naltrexone affected only a small minority of people and included the following: nausea (10%), headache (7%), dizziness (4%), fatigue (4%), insomnia (3%), anxiety (2%), and sleepiness (2%). These side effects were usually mild and of short duration. As treatment for alcoholism, naltrexone side effects, predominantly nausea, have been se vere enough to discontinue the medication in 5-10% of the patients starting it. For most other patients side effects are mild or of brief duration. One serious possibility is that naltrexone can have toxic effects on the liver. Blood tests of liver function are performed prior to the onset of treatment and periodically during treatment to determine whether naltrexone should be started and whether it should be discontinued if the relatively rare side effect of liver toxicity is taking place.

  • Do I need to get blood tests while I'm on naltrexone ? How often ?

    To ensure that naltrexone treatment is safe, blood tests should be obtained prior to initial treatment. Following that, retesting generally occurs at monthly intervals for the first three months, with less frequent testing after that point. More frequent testing may be requested depending on the health of your liver prior to beginning treatment. Blood tests are needed to make sure that liver function is adequate prior to taking naltrexone and to evaluate whether naltrexone is having adverse effects on the liver.

  • Can I take other medications with naltrexone ?

    The major active effect of naltrexone is on opioid drugs, which is one class of drugs used primarily to treat pain but is also found in some prescription cough preparations. Naltrexone will block the effect of normal doses of this type of drug. There are many non-narcotic pain relievers that can be used effectively while you are on naltrexone. Otherwise, naltrexone is likely to have little impact on other medications patients commonly use such as antibiotics, non-opioid analgesics (e.g., aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen), and allergy medications. You should inform your physician of whatever medication you are currently taking so that possible interactions can be evaluated. Because naltrexone is broken down by the liver, other medications that can affect liver function may affect the dose of naltrexone.

  • Will I get sick If I drink while on naltrexone ?

    No. Naltrexone will reduce the desire to drink more, but it will not cause a severe physical response to drinking.

  • Will I get sick If I stop naltrexone suddenly ?

    Naltrexone does not cause physical dependence and it can be stopped at any time without withdrawal symptoms. In addition, available findings regarding cessation do not show a "rebound" effect to resume alcohol use when naltrexone is discontinued.

  • What should I do If I need an operation or pain medication ?

    You should carry a card explaining that you are on naltrexone and that also instructs physicians on pain management. Many pain medications that are not opioids are available for use. If you are going to have elective surgery, naltrexone should be discontinued at least 72 hours beforehand.

  • What Is the relationship of naltrexone to AA ?

    There is no contradiction between participation in AA and taking naltrexone. Naltrexone is not addictive and does not produce any "high" or pleasant effects. It can contribute to achievement of an abstinence goal by reducing the craving or compulsion to drink, particularly during early phases of recovery. It is most likely to be effective when the patient's goal is to stop drinking altogether.

  • How long should I stay on naltrexone ?

    If naltrexone is tolerated and the patient is successful in reducing or stopping drinking, the recommended initial course of treatment is 3 to 6 months. At that time the patient and family should evaluate the need for further treatment on the basis of degree of improvement, degree of continued concerns about relapse and level of improvement in areas of functioning other than alcohol use.