Naltrexone is a drug used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction. It belongs to a group of drugs called opioid antagonists, which work by blocking the effect of opioid receptors and dramatically reducing cravings and urges to drink alcohol or take opioids. Along with counseling and other support, naltrexone treatment allows patients to maintain abstinence, reduce the harms related to the use of these substances, and improve their quality of life. The length of the treatment greatly depends on each patient’s needs and situation.
Naltrexone works by binding to the endorphin receptors in the body. This in turn blocks the effects of alcohol and opioids, resulting in reduced cravings and addiction.
Treating alcohol dependence is one of the main benefits of naltrexone. An overwhelming body of clinical evidence clearly supports its effects on alcohol cravings:
Illegal use of opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and morphine can lead to addiction and impaired quality of life. Several lines of evidence suggest that naltrexone can treat addiction to opioids by blocking certain signals in the brain:
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body do not respond properly to the effects of the hormone insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels become elevated. Chronic elevation in blood sugar can be life-threatening as it can lead to nerve damage, vision problems, and impaired kidney function. Interestingly, studies have shown that naltrexone can help improve insulin resistance and normalize blood sugar levels:
Research has shown that naltrexone has the ability to boost growth hormone (GH) levels. This is a significant finding since GH plays an integral role in building and maintaining lean muscle mass, reducing body fat, speeding up metabolism, and other important functions.
Naltrexone can also help achieve a healthier weight, thus, reducing one’s risk for obesity-related diseases. Studies show that this drug works by reducing food intake:
Studies show that naltrexone can help ward off various inflammatory conditions because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties:
There’s also a great deal of evidence supporting the benefits of naltrexone on sleep quantity and quality:
Taking naltrexone also has benefits for thyroid health. Studies show that this drug can help improve thyroid function:
Naltrexone side effects are very uncommon. There have been some side effects associated with the use of this drug wherein the patient had one of the issues listed below at some point while being on naltrexone. However, these side effects weren’t confirmed to be associated with the treatment and could have been a coincidence and not related to the use of naltrexone. Despite this, it was listed as a side effect associated with naltrexone even though these associated side effects are very uncommon.
Side effects associated with naltrexone may include the following:
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