Naltrexone is a medication prescribed for alcohol dependence and opioid use disorder that can have effects on mood, including increased or decreased anxiety.
Other common effects on mood include:
Anxiety is a common side effect of naltrexone. However, for some people, it may have the opposite effect and actually help decrease anxiety.
Anxiety is common among people with substance use issues and may be effectively treated through both behavioral and pharmacological treatments.
Increased Anxiety From Naltrexone
Anxiety is listed as a common side effect of naltrexone, which is a medication that is also prescribed under the brand names Revia, Depade, and Vivitrol.
Potential causes of increased anxiety while taking naltrexone:
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that can precipitate opioid withdrawal symptoms if it’s taken with opioids still present in a person’s system.
Anxiety, restlessness, and agitation are common symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which can last for anywhere from one to two weeks after a person’s last opioid use.
Anxiety is also a common symptom of protracted withdrawal, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which can last weeks or months after stopping opioids.
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Effects On The Brain
Naltrexone is a medication that is known to block endorphin receptors in the brain, which prevents euphoria from drug or alcohol use.
Over time, this blocking effect on naturally occurring endorphins may have effects on mood, and can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety while taking naltrexone.
Lack Of Psychosocial Support
Feeling anxious while receiving medication for a drug or alcohol problem may indicate that a person is in need of additional psychosocial or therapeutic support.
Medication is not a full treatment for alcohol or opioid addiction by itself. Psychosocial support, such as counseling or group therapy, may help provide tools for managing anxiety.
Experiencing anxiety while taking naltrexone may be linked to factors unrelated to the use of medication, including high stress or an independent anxiety disorder.
Risk factors for developing an anxiety disorder include:
- high stress
- drug and alcohol abuse
- family history of anxiety
- chronic medical conditions
- history of trauma
Co-occurring anxiety disorders in people with substance abuse is common, and can be treated through behavioral therapy, dual diagnosis, and other treatment services.
Decreased Anxiety From Naltrexone
Decreased anxiety has been reported as a potential benefit of low-dose naltrexone (LDN), an experimental treatment unrelated to substance use disorders.
Naltrexone use by itself is not associated with decreased anxiety, generally. However, unrelated factors, such as decreased alcohol or drug use, may help improve anxiety.
Getting help for a drug or alcohol problem can also connect people with resources to help address contributors to anxiety.
Some factors that may contribute to anxiety:
- financial concerns
- relationship problems
- inability to work
- housing issues
- poor nutrition
- untreated medical or mental health conditions
Can Naltrexone Be Prescribed For Anxiety?
Anxiety is not an FDA-approved use for naltrexone, due to a lack of evidence supporting its clinical efficacy for helping treat this condition.
What Can Help With Anxiety While Taking Naltrexone?
Treatment for anxiety may be recommended for people who are struggling with both a substance use disorder and moderate to severe anxiety.
Treatment for co-occurring addiction and anxiety may involve:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- dual diagnosis treatment
An integrated treatment approach that addresses both a person’s substance use and anxiety simultaneously is the preferred approach for treating co-occurring disorders.
Treatment for anxiety disorders with naltrexone (i.e. medication-assisted treatment) may be offered within an inpatient rehab program or an outpatient program for addiction.
Getting Help For Alcohol And Opioid Abuse
Anxiety is common among people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. With treatment, anxiety can be effectively managed and may improve with time.
By calling our helpline, we can:
- identify suitable treatment options based on the specific details of your situation
- explain your different treatment options
- help you find a treatment program that’s right for you
If you’re looking for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today to speak to one of our staff members about available treatment options near you.
Published on July 22, 2021
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Naltrexone
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Substance Use Disorder Treatment for People With Co-Occurring Disorders
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: NCBI — The use of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) as a novel anti-inflammatory treatment for chronic pain
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Does naltrexone treatment lead to depression? Findings from a randomized controlled trial in subjects with opioid dependence