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Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist that is prescribed to treat opiate dependence. It has also been successfully used in the treatment of alcohol dependency. Opioid antagonists bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks them. This means that effects of drugs like heroin, morphine or other prescription opioid medications are not experienced. The physical effects of euphoria, comfort or well-being associated with these drugs will not be felt. Naltrexone interrupts the pathways in the brain that release endorphins when the drug is taken and has proved to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of relapse.
Oral Naltrexone is commonly prescribed in oral form and must be taken daily to reduce symptoms associated with opiate withdrawals to promote recovery. However, the effectiveness of the drug is contingent on patients adhering to recommended daily dosing.
Vivitrol is an extended-release injectable version of naltrexone that patients receive every 28 – 30 days. Vivitrol largely eliminates the issues of non-compliance with daily oral dosing of naltrexone. It is a monthly shot administered by a health professional in the CMAP clinic.
A naltrexone implant is a small pellet typically inserted into the subcutaneous tissue near the hip area under local anesthetic. The implant is effective for approximately three months and works by blocking the effects of opiate drugs. It does this by binding to opiate receptors in the body, which prevents opiate drugs like heroin or oxycodone from causing a person to experience the usual high. In blocking the effectiveness of the drug, naltrexone helps to break the cycle of drug use.