Naltrexone hydrochloride is a prescription tablet and opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids administered intravenously. Naltrexone is able to block the effects of opiates through a process called competitive binding. This happens at the opioid receptor sites. While it can completely block euphoric effects of opiates, it has not shown the same effect with non-opioid drugs such as cocaine.

Naltrexone has proven valuable when administered as part of a comprehensive management plan that ensures patients take the medication. Naltrexone is also used to manage alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is non-addictive and is not mood-altering. It essentially eliminates the physical cravings and prevents patients from experiencing a high when taking opiates.

What are the Risks of Naltrexone?

The Naltrexone block on opiates can be reversed. It’s very dangerous for patients to try and overcome the blockade effect of Naltrexone by taking large amounts of opiates. This can lead to a fatal overdose, including respiratory arrest and circulatory collapse.

Once a patient stops using Naltrexone, he or she may be more sensitive to lower doses of opioid medications.

Severe withdrawal can set in when Naltrexone is accidentally taken by those who are dependent on opiates. Severe symptoms could develop in as little as five minutes after the dose of Naltrexone is taken and can last for two days. Close medical monitoring is required in this case because these withdrawal symptoms can include confusion, visual hallucinations and significant loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea. This requires fluids to be given intravenously.

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