Naltrexone: Can it Be an Effective Addictions Treatment?

Naltrexone is an opioid agonist that is usually prescribed to reduce the intensity of chronic pain. It is used for the management of certain kinds of pain associated with cancer and end-stage HIV patients. Long-term use of this drug can result in the development of severe withdrawal side effects, which can further complicate the situation. Naltrexone should only be administered under medical supervision, because it has been linked to the risk of hypoglycemia, seizures, depression, agitation, and psychosis.

The dosage of this medication must be carefully monitored and prescribed by a doctor in accordance with the patient’s medical history. This dosage is reduced when the patient begins taking the drug or when the patient undergoes surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Patients with comatose, dementia, or other conditions that make it difficult to take standard doses of medication should not take this drug.

Naltrexone can cause some serious side effects. Some of the possible side effects include restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, constipation, nausea, sweating, fever, and difficulty breathing. Some patients may also experience increased blood pressure, liver problems, and liver failure. These side effects can pose a serious risk to life and can even result in death if not treated promptly. Patients should always be given the proper dose at the right time in order to avoid these potentially life-threatening side effects.

To minimize the severity of the side effects, a steady reduction schedule of naltrexone is usually recommended. In most cases, patients can reduce their doses by up to 70% in just one week. Patients can gradually increase the amount of naltrexone they take as long as the doctor determines that the side effects are tolerable. Although the short term effects of naltrexone can be quite powerful, they generally do not lead to any long-term health issues. Most patients only need to reduce their dosages on a weekly basis in order to avoid long term issues.

Because of the potential for serious health risks, naltrexone should never be prescribed to anyone taking certain medications. Individuals who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy are not good candidates for this drug because it can increase the toxicity of the treatments. Smoking and people with severe pain are also not good candidates for this drug because it can increase the dependency on the drug. Also, pregnant women and people who are breast feeding should avoid this medication.

The use of naltrexone for the treatment of obesity has been a controversial issue. While naltrexone has been effective in the treatment of obesity, it has also been used to treat patients with alcoholism. Naltrexone is an opioid and as such can cause addiction if the dosage is increased improperly or too often. This drug was originally designed to treat patients with cancer who had tumors outside the stomach but have been used in other situations. Withdrawal from naltrexone causes many of the same symptoms as withdrawal from opioids, including insomnia, nausea and depression.

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