Liver damage, also known as hepatotoxicity, is not a common side effect of naltrexone in most people. This can occur in people who have other risk factors, such as acute liver failure.
Liver damage is a common consequence of alcohol use disorder and drug addiction—both of which are conditions naltrexone is commonly prescribed to treat.
While naltrexone isn’t recommended for people with liver failure, it may be safely taken by individuals with impaired liver function when taken as directed under clinical supervision.
Does Naltrexone Cause Liver Damage?
Hepatotoxicity, or liver damage, is not a common side effect of naltrexone when it’s taken as directed in recommended doses.
Liver damage can occur if someone takes a very high dose of naltrexone (i.e. overdose), or if naltrexone is taken by someone with acute liver injury or liver failure.
Signs of liver damage might include:
- yellowed skin or eyes (jaundice)
- chronic pain in the upper-right abdomen
- excessive fatigue
- loss of appetite
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- dark urine
- light-colored bowel movements
Liver damage is not a common side effect in most people. If you do experience symptoms of liver damage while taking naltrexone, contact your doctor right away.
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Preventing Liver Damage While Taking Naltrexone
Before starting naltrexone treatment, tell your doctor if you have ever had hepatitis, liver disease, or are at risk for developing liver disease.
People who have liver disease or have a history of chronic and severe substance abuse may be monitored closely while taking naltrexone to monitor for effects on liver function.
What you can do to help prevent liver damage while taking naltrexone:
- tell your doctor of any other medications you’re currently taking
- tell your doctor if you have a long history of heavy drinking or alcohol addiction
- tell your doctor if you have a family history of liver disease
- tell your doctor if you have ever experienced liver failure, liver injury, or hepatitis
- take naltrexone exactly as directed by your doctor
- do not take naltrexone with other substances (e.g. alcohol, opioids) without consulting a doctor
Is Naltrexone Safe To Take If You Have Liver Disease?
Naltrexone treatment may be prescribed for people with stable liver disease, provided they are closely monitored by a doctor for the duration of their treatment.
To avoid liver damage while taking naltrexone:
- avoid the use of illicit drugs while taking naltrexone
- take naltrexone exactly as prescribed
- let your doctor know if you are experiencing unusual side effects
Get Help For Alcohol And Opioid Addiction
Naltrexone is commonly prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol abuse or opioid use disorder. It can help block cravings and prevent a person from getting high.
If you’re looking for addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, don’t wait. Call us today to learn more about naltrexone and to find an addiction treatment program that’s right for you.
Published on July 19, 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
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — VIVITROL (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension)
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Naltrexone and liver disease
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Naltrexone