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What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a narcotic antagonist. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain and therefore blocking the effects of heroin and other opioids. It has also been shown to reduce craving and consumption for some patients who are alcohol dependent.

Those who take it know that they cannot achieve a ‘high’ from using heroin and that any money therefore spent on heroin will be wasted. It does not directly stop a person wanting to use heroin, although it may reduce or prevent cravings in some people.

The drug’s success in helping someone abstain is dependent on many of factors, including their willingness to follow a course of medication and the level of available support. Naltrexone is only one part of a comprehensive treatment program, which should include regular counselling. Recent studies have suggested that many clients do not remain on naltrexone treatment and will often return to heroin use.

You cannot become physically dependent on naltrexone and it does not produce any euphoric effects.

Naltrexone implants can be used to ensure regular dosage. These are available through private clinics. The implants are about 9mm in diameter and about 1.9cm in length, and can be inserted through a 1 inch incision in the lower abdomen or at the back of the upper arm. Implants are usually effective for six week periods.