Naltrexone is a generic, opioid antagonist prescription drug. It’s available under several brand names, including Revia, Vivitrol and Depade. Revia is a 50 mg tablet. Depade is another oral form of naltrexone. Vivitrol is an extended-release injectable version of naltrexone. Vivitrol is given once a month to prevent relapse for people who are addicted to alcohol or opioids. Vivitrol must be administered by a medical professional, unlike Revia and Depade -which can be taken like any other medication. Vivitrol is highly controlled, compared to Revia and Depade. All of these drugs are used as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs that address addiction and dependence. Any form of naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. This means naltrexone can block the effects of opioids when someone uses them while taking one of these drugs. Naltrexone medications can also reduce opioid and alcohol cravings, which can help people successfully complete an addiction treatment program. Naltrexone can be taken daily, several times a week, or monthly with the injection.
Naltrexone is not considered to be a controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act; however, it’s currently available by prescription only. Any licensed physician can prescribe naltrexone and it doesn’t have to be used only in a clinical setting like methadone when it’s taken orally. The injectable Vivitrol, on the other hand, does have to be administered in a clinical setting. There is no potential for abuse, addiction or dependence with the use of naltrexone. At the same time, naltrexone doesn’t cure addiction nor does it cure dependency. It needs to be used as part of a larger treatment program that deals with the physical, social and psychological components of addiction.
Naltrexone works as an opioid antagonist and is designed for use after a successful detox. If there are opioids in a person’s system when they try to use naltrexone, a person will experience sudden opioid withdrawal. To avoid sudden opioid withdrawal, people should stop using any opioids for 7 to 10 days before taking naltrexone. In some cases, as many as 14 days may be required to fully detox from opioids. If someone tries to use opioids while taking naltrexone, the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and can require hospitalization. Naltrexone could possibly cause liver damage or hepatitis as well, so patients should let their doctors know if they have any history of liver issues. Some of the most common side effects of naltrexone are gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and cramping.
If someone uses opioids and naltrexone simultaneously, there is a risk of sudden withdrawal symptoms and overdose. That’s why it’s important to know the half-life of naltrexone. The average eliminate half-life of naltrexone is between 4 hours and 13 hours. With Vivitrol, the half-life is much longer. The average half-life of the Vivitrol shot is between 5 to 10 days as it is an extended-release drug. The half-life doesn’t indicate the time it would take the entire dose of naltrexone to leave the system. Instead, it’s a measure of how long it would take half of a dose of the drug to be processed and eliminated. It usually takes several half-lives before a drug is fully eliminated.
Certain factors can influence how long naltrexone stays in the system. One is age. Older people tend to take longer to eliminate drugs from their system compared to younger people. A patient’s overall health and any chronic illnesses can also influence how long naltrexone stays in the system. People with a faster metabolism will eliminate naltrexone more quickly than someone with a slower metabolism. Other individual factors that influence how long naltrexone stays in the system can include body mass and hydration levels.
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There are instances in which someone might be tested by their doctor to ensure that they’re taking naltrexone as instructed. In these cases, patients may wonder how long naltrexone stays in the urine, hair and blood. When taking immediate-release versions of naltrexone, the drug can be detected in urine for about 4 to 6 hours. A blood test can show most versions of oral naltrexone for up to 24 hours, and a saliva test can show naltrexone for up to a day. In a hair follicle test, naltrexone can be present for up to 90 days. Vivitrol can show up in drug tests for months after it’s administered.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.