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Naltrexone is primarily used an aid in the treatment of alcohol dependence or addiction to opiates. Though not approved for this indication, naltrexone has also been used in the treatment of behavior and impulse-control disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How quickly will the drug start working?

Naltrexone blocks the “craving” for alcohol and opiates. It does not suppress withdrawal symptoms that can occur in opiate user and should not be used in anyone using narcotics in the previous 10 days; these individuals must undergo detoxification programs before starting naltrexone. Naltrexone is started at a low dose and increased gradually based on effectiveness. Onset of response is quick (within the hour). 

How long should you take this medication?

Naltrexone is usually prescribed for a set period of time to help the individual discontinue the use of alcohol or opiates. Naltrexone is used for a prolonged period of time in the treatment of behavior and impulse-control problems and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Do not decrease or increase the dose without discussing this with the doctor.

Side effects

Side effects occur, to some degree, with all medication. They are usually not serious and do not occur in all individuals. They may sometimes occur before beneficial effects of the medication are noticed. If a side effect continues, speak to your doctor about appropriate treatment.

Common side effects that should be reported to your doctor at the next appointment include:


  • Lethargy, confusion, depression-This problem goes away with time. Use of other drugs that make you drowsy will worsen the problem. Avoid driving a car or operating machinery if drowsiness persists.
  • Nervousness, anxiety, insomnia- Some individuals may feel nervous or have difficulty sleeping for a few days after starting this medication.
  • Headache-Temporary use of analgesics (e. g., acetaminophen, paracetamol ).
  • Joint and muscle pain-Temporary use of analgesics
  • Abdominal pain, cramps, nausea and vomiting-If this happens take the medication with food or milk.
  • Weight loss.


Rare side effects you should report to your doctor IMMEDIATELY include:

  • Yellow tinge in the eyes or to the skin; dark-colored urine
  • Soreness of the mouth, gums or throat
  • Skin rash or itching, swelling of the face
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, fever, or flu-like symptoms

What should you do if you forget to take a dose of your medication?

If you take your total dose of the drug in the morning and you forget to take it for more than 6 hours, skip the missed dose and continue with your schedule the next day. DO NOT DOUBLE THE DOSE. If you take the drug several times a day, take the missed dose when you remember, then continue with your regular schedule. 

Interactions with other medication

Because naltrexone can change the effect of other medication, or may be affected by other medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking other drugs, including over-the-counter medication such as cold remedies. Always inform any doctor or dentist that you see that you are taking this medication.


  1. Do not increase or decrease your without consulting your do
  2. Report to your doctor any changes in sleeping or eating habits or changes in mood or behavior.
  3. Carry an identification card stating the name of the drug you are taking.
  4. Store your medication in a clean, dry area at room temperature. Keep all medication out of the reach of children.

If you have any questions regarding this medication, do not hesitate to contact your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse