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Is naltrexone effective in treating alcohol abuse?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Known as an opioid antagonist, naltrexone (Depade, ReVia, Vivitrol) reduces your craving for a drink and, if you go ahead and drink anyway, blunts the pleasurable effects of alcohol. This medication for alcohol abuse is most effective in conjunction with some form of psychotherapy, according to numerous studies.

Naltrexone is generally recommended if you have stopped drinking and are trying to avoid relapse, but some people who have not been able to stop drinking entirely can use it to control their alcohol consumption.

In many, but not all, studies of this drug, people taking naltrexone achieved longer abstinence and had fewer relapses than those taking a placebo. An analysis of 29 studies done in many countries found that naltrexone reduced the risk of relapse or a return to heavy drinking during the first three months after withdrawal by more than one-third. The effect does not persist, however, when you stop taking the drug.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.