Naltrexone is a prescription medication that is taken as a treatment for opioid use disorder (Vivitrol) and alcohol dependence (ReVia, Depade).
One of the most common side effects of naltrexone is mild to severe nausea. This side effect can last for the first few days of treatment, or may persist for some time.
What Causes Nausea While Taking Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that binds to and blocks opioid receptors in the brain, and alters the activity of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
Nausea while taking naltrexone is believed to be tied to this interaction with the body’s opioid receptors, which are involved in the regulation of hormones, digestion, and pain perception.
Side effects while taking naltrexone can also be influenced by recent alcohol use, negative drug interactions, protracted opiate withdrawal, and taking naltrexone on an empty stomach.
Risk Factors For Nausea From Naltrexone Use
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, there are several risk factors that can predict nausea as a likely side effect while taking naltrexone.
Risk factors for experiencing nausea include:
- younger age
- being female
- recent alcohol use
- light drinking
- taking higher doses of naltrexone
Because the study only included participants receiving naltrexone for alcohol use disorder, the same risk factors may not apply for those taking it for opioid addiction.
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Does Nausea From Naltrexone Go Away?
Side effects of naltrexone, such as nausea, may often subside within the first two to four weeks of initial use, as the body adjusts to the drug.
However, this may not be true for everyone. The body’s reaction to drugs like naltrexone can vary from person to person based on a number of genetic, biological, and personal factors.
Tips For Managing Nausea While Taking Naltrexone
Nausea is one of the most common side effects of naltrexone. Unfortunately, this can sometimes disrupt treatment compliance—that is, it can prompt a person to stop taking it.
Side effects like nausea may go away with time. But if this isn’t the case, this effect may be manageable through a variety of means.
Tips and home remedies for managing nausea can include:
- taking naltrexone at bedtime (if taking pills)
- taking an antacid for nausea or vomiting
- avoid taking naltrexone on an empty stomach
- avoid alcohol while receiving naltrexone treatment
If you’re experiencing persistent nausea while taking naltrexone for drug or alcohol addiction, consider consulting your doctor for further guidance.
Learn More About Naltrexone For Addiction Today
Experiencing side effects while taking naltrexone is normal, particularly in the early days of treatment. Do not stop taking naltrexone without talking to your doctor.
If you’re looking for naltrexone treatment, or wish to learn more about this addiction medication, one of our staff members may be able to help.
For more information, call our helpline today to learn about taking naltrexone for addiction and how to find naltrexone treatment options at a drug rehab center near you.
Published on July 20, 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.
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- Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology — Naltrexone-induced nausea in patients treated for alcohol dependence: clinical predictors and evidence for opioid-mediated effects
- Psychiatric Times — Dramatic Alcohol Treatment Results Seen with Naltrexone
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Naltrexone