What is Naltrexone, and Is Naltrexone a controlled Substance

Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance

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Naltrexone is a medication approved by FDA which treats both alcohol and opioid use disorders. You may ask Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance? Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist (inhibitor) with an extended intramuscular release within the body. This drug treats opioid use disorders (OUD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) as a Medication Associated treatment option (MAT). MAT is the use of medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies to control misuse disorders and helps individuals recover faster.

According to surveys, the US has outburst the opioid epidemic, and deaths due to overuse of this drug have a high rate. These drugs are highly addictive and change the social and personal behaviors of individuals even after a few times of use. This article discusses Naltrexone, a controlled substance that helps overcome opioid addiction. Let’s go through the details.

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, i.e., it blocks opioid receptors in the body and stops the effects of opioids from entering the body. It is available in two forms, pills and extended muscular release injections. A licensed practitioner can prescribe medicines for AUD and extended muscular injections for OUD. 

You may need to know about Suboxone doctors near me.

You can regularly use the pills for alcohol use disorders, but the injection doses are once in four weeks or a month. Is Naltrexone a controlled substance used as part of comprehensive treatment plans? MAT uses Naltrexone along with various therapies to prevent various drug disorders. Naltrexone is only helpful when you use it with an addiction treatment program. Ensure you attend all the counseling sessions, education programs, or other treatment plans that your doctor recommends.

The recommended dose of Naltrexone is 50 milligrams daily. You can take it before taking food or also without food. Naltrexone is not an addictive drug, and individuals don’t experience withdrawal symptoms after they stop using it.

How long does Naltrexone stay in your system?

You often wonder how long does Naltrexone stay in the system? It entirely depends on the dose and route of administration of this drug. Naltrexone has a half-life of 4-12 hours. As soon as you take Naltrexone orally, it metabolizes into its metabolites (6 B-Naltrexone). These metabolites go to the gastrointestinal tract and dissolve in approximately 12 hours in the plasma and the whole body.

The metabolites begin to appear in the urine after 4-6 hours of its use. 

  • In blood, drugs appear within 24 hours. Its excretion depends on various factors. Elimination gets prolonged if the person is old age or taking multiple medications.
  • In saliva, the metabolites show their presence for approximately one day.
  • The drug is present for a longer duration, 90 days, in the hair follicles. These follicles act as a storage unit and help determine the exact course and amount of drugs taken.

What to avoid before taking low dose Naltrexone:

Before starting treatment with Naltrexone, you should talk to your doctor about the following conditions and discuss in detail whether you should start taking Naltrexone.

  • Discuss all the medications, supplements, vitamins, and herbal medicines you were taking before.
  • Either you are in a family way or breastfeeding your child.
  • Your practitioner should know if you are already on painkillers or antiallergics for backache, cough, sinusitis, or other diseases.
  • Discuss all the persisting medical illnesses: liver disease, depression, bleeding disorders, kidney problems, or other conditions.
  • If you are allergic to Naltrexone or the liquid used for intramuscular injection in Naltrexone, tell him in the first communication yourself.
  • If you are already taking treatments for OUD or AUD, you must narrate this. 
  • You should be aware that if you have taken opioid medications before treatment with Naltrexone, you may be more sensitive to these medications after your treatment ends. Tell your doctor, who may prescribe medications for you, that you have been on therapy with Naltrexone.

Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance for Opioid Disorder:

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist drug and mostly doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms. You should stop taking short-acting opioids for at least seven days and long-term opioids 10-14 days before starting Naltrexone.

Individuals taking Naltrexone, a controlled substance for alcohol, should avoid all illicit drugs, tranquilizers, and other medications. You should explain to your practitioner the medicines you are already taking for any other disease.

The oral formulation of Naltrexone may block the effect of opioids. Still, the use of Naltrexone with the help of other therapies like behavioral and cognitive therapy does wonders in the long-term abstinence of opioids.

Is Naltrexone a Controlled Substance for Alcohol Disorder:

You should not be physically dependent on alcohol before using Naltrexone as a controlled substance. If you are an alcohol abuser, you have to wait for the alcohol detox from your body before administering Naltrexone. 

This drug binds to the endorphins receptors of your body and inhibits the effect of alcohol consumption. Thus it decreases the cravings and effects of alcohol consumption in the long run. This treatment usually lasts for 3-4 months as other therapies. You should visit your doctor once a month even if you have stopped using Naltrexone.

Side Effects of Naltrexone:

The benefits of Naltrexone are way more than the side effects. That’s why practitioners prescribe this drug. But it has its side effects, too, just like any other medication;

  • Nausea                                                
  • Headache                                          
  • Trouble sleeping                                   
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Painful joints
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle cramps

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms: These symptoms can occur after a few minutes of taking Naltrexone and include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, muscle aches, mood changes, confusion, and visual hallucinations. This condition is an acute emergency and requires medical consultation.

Risks of Opioid Overdose:

Naltrexone does not have the potential to cause an overdose. Still, in most cases, opioid overdose occurs when you try to overcome the blocking effect of Naltrexone by taking large amounts of opioids. The risk of opioid overdose is the same even before and after Naltrexone treatment as it increases the sensitivity to opioid receptors. Naltrexone will help you avoid using drugs and alcohol, but it will not relieve the withdrawal symptoms when you stop using these drugs. 

An opioid overdose is a medical emergency that needs medical attention immediately. In an opioid overdose, try to administer Naloxone to the patient and call the medical center for help. In the meantime, if the patient remains unresponsive, hold them in the recovery position as they may not choke while vomiting. Try to stay with them until they reach a medical emergency.

Naltrexone vs. Suboxone in Opioid Disorder Treatment:

Naltrexone works by binding to the opioid receptors and thus inhibiting their effects. The recovery phase decreases the chances of relapse and minimizes the cravings. Doctors only prescribe Naltrexone when an individual is not using opioids for at least 7-14 days and doesn’t depend on opioids physically.

Suboxone, on the other hand, is primarily used to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, overdose, and relapse. The patient usually takes suboxone at the beginning of the withdrawal phase and continues taking it until it completely recovers. Buprenorphine, a component of suboxone, attaches to opioid receptors partially and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms to a great extent, thus making abstinence possible.


Naltrexone is the Medication used to fight against opioid misuse. This article has discussed how Naltrexone binds to opioid receptors and blocks their effects. There is no potential for Naltrexone misuse. Neither does it mean that you are replacing one addiction with the other.

If you or your loved one is suffering from opioid misuse, contact your doctor immediately and start their successful treatment. Various worldwide programs individualize and tailor the patient’s needs and help them recover from drug abuse. The primary aim of professionals is to improve the quality of life for people suffering from drug abuse and provide them with a better life. Have a productive life ahead!


1. Can you drink alcohol on Naltrexone?

The professionals recommend minimizing alcohol for at least seven days and other drugs while using Naltrexone. Excessive use may precipitate seizures in patients, and adverse neuropsychiatric events occur.

2. What happens if you drink alcohol on Naltrexone?

Naltrexone blocks the feelings of intoxication from alcohol. It does not stop the impairment, such as reduced coordination, reflexes, or poor judgment. Even though you may not feel drunk, driving or other activities can be dangerous. You may still suffer a decreased response time and slowed thinking measures. 

3. How does Naltrexone make you feel?

Some people have side effects like nausea, constipation, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, or pain in their arms and legs. Most of these side effects don’t occur much often. Only a small percentage of individuals taking Naltrexone may experience these side effects.

4. Does Naltrexone give you energy?

Naltrexone increases dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and gives you energy helping your brain solve problems. Thus using Naltrexone makes you energetic.

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Medically reviewed by DR.Reckitt.

Claire Wilcox, MD, is a general and addiction psychiatrist in private practice and an associate professor of translational neuroscience at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico; and has completed an addictions fellowship, psychiatry residency, and internal medicine residency. Having done extensive research in the area, she is an expert in the neuroscience of substance use disorders. Although she is interested in several topics in medicine and psychiatry, with a particular focus on substance use disorders, obesity, eating disorders, and chronic pain, her primary career goal is to help promote recovery and wellbeing for people with a range of mental health challenges.

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AddictedRecovery aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use disorder and mental health issues. Our team of licensed medical professionals research, edit and review the content before publishing. However, this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice please consult your physicians or ChoicePoint’s qualified staff.

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