What Influences the Effects of Naltrexone in Addiction Recovery?


Man in Addiction Recovery

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist which works in the brain to prevent opiate effects such as feelings of pain relief or euphoria. Working against the desire to take opioids, naltrexone is used to treat alcohol or drug abuse. With medication-assisted treatment (MAT), naltrexone can be offered in pill form as an injection. There is no abuse potential with naltrexone, but side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, headaches, sleep problems, and more. If you’ve been considering taking naltrexone, this could be a great option for you if you’re wanting something that will completely prevent the feeling of getting “high” from this medication.

A recent study published in Translational Psychiatry found that an individual’s emotional processing can affect the way naltrexone is experienced; like many other medications, a person’s psychological tendencies can mean stronger or weaker side effects. The study found that in individuals who have experienced childhood adversity (maltreatment, domestic violence, etc.), negative emotional processing due to these events affected their amygdala (a nervous tissue responsible for emotions, survival instincts and memory) and the hippocampus (a brain structure responsible for memory, emotions, and motivation). From this, naltrexone has been shown to increase a person’s negative response to stress if they have opioid dependence, or increase anxiety in those with alcohol or cocaine dependence. This means that if you naturally experience more anxiety or stress due to adversity you’ve experienced in your earlier years, you may experience these as slightly heightened reactions when taking naltrexone.

Despite the potential for increased stress or anxiety reactivity, studies have shown that naltrexone has been very effective in reducing cravings and responding to negative stimuli, meaning that the medication will work even harder to overcome these adverse experiences. The study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine participants’ brain responses to aversive and neutral images while on naltrexone; there were two groups of people, one with a history of childhood adversity and another with no history of trauma. The medication was shown to increase activation in the amygdala and the hippocampus when aversive images were shown – making naltrexone a potential benefit to those looking to get medical help for addiction while working hard in their recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.