Liver Damage From Taking Naltrexone

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on

Naltrexone is a medication prescribed for alcohol dependence and opioid addiction. Taking very high doses, or taking naltrexone with acute liver failure, can increase the risk for liver damage. Liver damage isn’t common in most people taking naltrexone.

Liver Damage From Taking Naltrexone

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.

Find out more about the side effects of Naltrexone

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.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on
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