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Naltrexone In Rapid Alcohol Detox

by Terry Jhon

When it comes to anesthesia-facilitated alcohol detox or rapid alcohol detox as it is more commonly called, the drug Naltrexone plays an essential role. It is given to the patient while they are under anesthesia to block the alcohol cravings an addict must endure. It is also used after the rapid alcohol detox is completed to help the patient through the recovery process.

Naltrexone has been used successfully for alcohol addicts to reduce the need for drinking, and thus help them to stop drinking. This drug is called an opioid receptor antagonist and is mainly used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction. It is important to note that Naltrexone despite claims to the contrary, is not a cure for alcoholism, but is a well-established anti-addiction drug that has helped a great many alcohol dependent people overcome their addiction. When used together with other medications, it can give alcohol addicted people a stronger shot at having a successful rehabilitation.

Opiate Antagonist

What antagonist drugs do is they bind to receptors located in the brain but rather than activate them, they serve to block them. While Naltrexone’s usefulness in the treatment of alcoholism, particularly in anesthesia-facilitated alcohol detox cannot be denied, it is in reality an opiate antagonist which blocks the effects of opiates like heroin or morphine. Regardless of the fact that Naltrexone is not considered an alcohol antagonist, it has been shown to successfully reverse the pleasant physical effects of consuming alcohol with the result being that users do not feel the same enjoyment they’ve come to expect from alcohol.

How It Works

Naltrexone prevents certain pathways of the brain from releasing endorphins as they normally would when alcohol is drunk. This results in an addict getting less pleasure from drinking and thus having less desire to drink. It does not act, as some drugs do, to make an individual feel sick whenever they drink alcohol, but instead they may become intoxicated without feeling the pleasure of getting drunk. Use of this drug has been shown to help lower the frequency and severity of patients relapsing.

Side Effects of Naltrexone

Although this drug has been a huge help to patients undergoing rapid alcohol detox, it does come with some serious side effects. These include headaches, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness, nausea and insomnia. Should these side effects occur, the patient needs to discuss them with their physician before continuing taking the medication.

Pregnant or breast feeding women and people suffering from kidney or liver disease, or who have hepatitis should not take Naltrexone.

Other Treatments

Studies have indicated that Naltrexone is at its most effective when used together with other types of treatment for alcoholism. These would include counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.


Naltrexone has many benefits for patients who have undergone anesthesia-facilitated alcohol detox. It is fairly inexpensive and has been shown to be safe if taken in low doses. It isn’t necessary for a patient to go through detox before taking it and it is not addictive. In fact, Naltrexone has bee endorsed for the treatment of alcohol addiction by the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration. There are no severe reactions if it is taken with other medications. And last but not least, it can be used to treat opiate addicts.


Naltrexone was discovered by scientist David Sinclair in Finland back in the 1970’s after broad research was done into alcoholism. What he found was that Naltrexone had excellent results when taken by alcohol addicted individuals who had not managed to give up alcohol. Sinclair and his supporters declare there is a success rate of 76% with alcohol addicted people who use Naltrexone. This is determined based on the individual’s ability to abstain from or control their drinking.

There is much and varied criticism of Naltrexone. For certain researchers it is a problem of ethics when giving a drug to an alcoholic who is not currently abstaining from drinking. The twist is that the drug only continues to work if an individual keeps on drinking.

Others dismiss its success with rapid alcohol detox or anesthesia-facilitated alcohol detox. They claim that the research isn’t accurate and insist doctors shouldn’t prescribe Naltrexone. Truth be told, although the drug has been proven quite effective, there are some doctors and treatment centers who won’t prescribe the medication.

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