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Naltrexone: What Is It Used For?

The journey of recovery starts when you confidently decide to take your life back from drugs or alcohol. As rewarding as it is though, with peaks as high as Everest, the valleys and lows can be equally as dramatic.

Anything that helps soften those lows in treatment and can keep you on the path of sustained sobriety is a blessing.

Naltrexone is one of those helpers.

Known more commonly by some of its brand names; ReVia, Vivitrol and Depade, naltrexone – the generic name – works wonders for those recovering from an opioid use disorder or alcoholism.

What Is Naltrexone?

As mentioned, this drug is used as a medication-assisted treatment option for those striving to beat opioids and/or alcohol. Taken as a pill or via injection, naltrexone is part of a broader rehab program, not a solution in its own right.

The fact that it can handle such seemingly disparate substances might have you thinking that naltrexone something of a miracle drug. It certainly seems that way but digging into the science helps make sense of why it works so well for both.

In regards to opioids, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) puts it this way, “Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors, and reduces and suppresses opioid cravings.”

They go on, for alcohol the medication “binds to the endorphin receptors in the body, and blocks the effects and feelings of alcohol. Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings and the amount of alcohol consumed. Once a patient stops drinking, taking naltrexone helps patients maintain their sobriety.”

In some respects, the brain reacts to alcohol in a way that’s similar to opioids and naltrexone uses that to its advantage and becomes an effective tool for recovery.

SAMHSA also points out that, “naltrexone is not an opioid, is not addictive, and does not cause withdrawal symptoms with stop of use…there is no abuse and diversion potential with naltrexone.”

While there may be no withdrawal symptoms from the medication, it can prompt opioid withdrawal symptoms if taken too soon after your last use of an opioid. Because of that, those undergoing treatment should wait anywhere from a week to 14 days depending on if they were taking short- or long-acting opioids.

For alcohol, it’s generally recommended to begin taking naltrexone after you’ve completed detoxing.

Why You Should Detox From Drugs and Alcohol at a Professional Facility

Rehab and treatment begin in full force only after you’ve detoxed from drugs and alcohol.

Understandably the prospect of detox can be a scary one.

You’ve grown so accustomed to drinking or taking your opioid of choice that there’s an intimidating sense of the unknown involved in what sobriety will feel like. Detoxing from both alcohol and opioids can be arduous and uncomfortable and going through it on your own only compounds the difficulty. 

Not only that but the withdrawal from both can actually be lethal, particularly in the case of alcohol where delirium tremens are possible.

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone and there are a number of benefits to detoxing at a professional facility.

Potentially Life-Saving

Because withdrawal can be deadly in some cases, arguably the most compelling reason to detox at a facility is that being in the immediate vicinity of medical experts can save your life.


The entire process is in fact supervised and guided by trained medical staff and addiction professionals to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible and protected from risk.


A huge component of not only rehab, but also the detox process is support. Feeling like someone is there for you and genuinely understands what you’re going through is a powerful motivator in those low moments.

Reach out to us today at VRC Agua Dulce

If you have any questions about detox or want to learn more about medication-assisted treatment with naltrexone, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Valley Recovery Center at Agua Dulce.

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