Tens of thousands of people die from opioid overdoses each year. Those numbers continue to go up, especially as highly potent and dangerous drugs like fentanyl overtake the streets. Opioids, which are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers and heroin, cause respiratory depression. Respiratory depression is the cause of opioid overdoses resulting in death.
Opioids are highly addictive, and addiction can have severe consequences. People who struggle with opioid addiction may be more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, they may experience breakdowns in their relationships, and they may be unable to maintain a productive life. Untreated opioid addiction can also lead to criminal behaviors. There’s so much conversation about what can be done to curb these effects. One approach is medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Naltrexone pills are part of a complete MAT approach to opioid misuse, and they can also be used to help treat alcohol use disorder.
Instead, it often requires a holistic approach, which is what MAT is. With medication-assisted treatment, people addicted to drugs or alcohol may receive medication such as naltrexone pills. That medication alone isn’t considered a cure-all. Ideally, medication is combined with behavioral treatment and counseling which looks at all of the components contributing to addiction. This is the best way to be successful in long-term recovery.
Both naltrexone pills and the injectable form block the brain’s response to opioids, since this drug is an opioid antagonist. There are certain receptors in the brain and throughout the central nervous system occupied when a person takes opioids. The activation of these receptors is why users experience the effects of these drugs, such as pain relief, euphoria, and respiratory depression. With naltrexone pills or the injectable version, the same receptors are occupied by the naltrexone, blocking the effects of other opioids. The effects of naltrexone are similar in alcoholics. Alcohol activates some of the same receptors as opioids. Naltrexone can block the pleasant effects of alcohol. If someone takes naltrexone and then drinks, they’re not likely to feel a buzz or feel drunk from it. Without those desirable effects, cravings may be reduced.
If you or your loved ones are struggling with addiction, we encourage you to contact The Recovery Village. We offer nationwide treatment centers with programs that vary in approach and length. We work with patients to address each aspect of their issues and prepare them for a successful, productive life free of opioids or other substances.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.
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