Naltrexone has been around for awhile and has many applications, especially in regards to addictive behaviors. Most recently it has been used successfully with Multiple Sclerosis patients as wel as HIV/AIDS patients in a low dosage therapy. Naltrexone can also be used to fight alcohol dependence.
Naltrexone basically blocks the opiate receptors in the brain so that the pleasurable feeling one gets when thinking about drinking or actually consuming alcohol is reduced or disappears over time. The Sinclair Method relies heavily upon Naltrexone as its basis for recovery.
Naltrexone is approved by the FDA for use with alcohol dependence. There are other versions of Naltrexone such as Depade, ReVia, Nalmefene, Revex etc. Naltrexone is normally prescribed at about 50 mg which is taken one hour before drinking. Yes, you continue drinking while taking Nal. This is obviously quite a bit different then abstinence related programs. The idea is that you take Nal and it reduces endorphin release in the brain so that when you drink an hour later you don’t get the pleasurable effect. Over time your brain realizes that alcohol doesn’t seem to give it any pleasure so your craving decrease – sometimes to an abstinence level. Even if you don’t become abstinent you can regain control over your drinking and drink only when you decide to.
Naltrexone is also available in an implant form. Many times people have difficulty taking their medication on a consistent basis. The capsule implant takes care of this issue through a time release mechanism.
There are some side effects from Nal such as nausea, headaches, loss of appetite, dizziness, etc. Usually these side effects are not severe. There has been evidence of liver damage when taken at high dosages of 300mg or more. Most side effects, if any, at prescription levels, most likely outweigh the side effects from heavy drinking. Naltrexone is a prescription drug so you will need to see a doctor about getting it. Obviously this is a good idea anyway as you’ll want to make sure there are no risks to taking it and there are some reasons why you may not be able to take it. Nal is also out in generic form now as well which can be quite a bit cheaper.
Naltrexone therapy can take some time to be successful. For heavier drinkers it can take 6 months to a year to reach a point of total control over the drinking compulsions. For some it can happen more rapidly. Most see a positive effect almost immediately after starting Nal but the ‘honeymoon” period soon fades and progress may seem minimal. Some may think it is having no effect. Over time however nearly 75% of those utilizing Nal therapy see improvement while 25% of those reach total abstinence. It doesn’t work for everyone but it is definitely worth a try.
Always seek the advice of your doctor before taking any medication. A good link to both the Sinclair Method and Naltrexone use if at TheSinclairMethod.net. There is a forum there with many people discussing successfully utilizing the therapy.