Naltrexone belongs to a class of drugs that act on the nervous system and is used to treat addictive disorders. It works in the brain to prevent opiate effects. Naltrexone is used as a complementary measure to help narcotic dependents who have stopped taking narcotics to stay drug-free. It is also used to help alcoholics stay alcohol-free. Naltrexone will cause withdrawal symptoms in people who are physically dependent on narcotics. It necessitates greater motivation than methadone treatment because it is easier to quit and does not produce abstinence symptoms.
Like other medications, naltrexone may produced adverse side effects, although not all persons will have them. The most frequent are: insomnia, vomiting, anxiety, digestive disorders, asthenia, headache, arthralgia and myalgia.
Special precautions should be taken in patients with chronic hepatitis, who use multiple drugs, and who have severe psychiatric disorders. Since naltrexone may make the patient more sensitive to lower doses of opioids than previously used, heroin or any other narcotic drugs should not be used to overcome what the medicine is doing as it could cause overdose and possibly death. The patient should be opioids (narcotics) free for at least 7 to 10 days before naltrexone treatment begins.
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