Is Naltrexone Addictive? Understanding The Impact


For a drug that binds to the same receptors that addictive drugs and opioids bind to, a justifiable question can come to mind: is naltrexone addictive?

Fortunately, naltrexone isn’t addictive. It comes with a list of side effects, some of which can be serious. However, because of its mechanism of action, naltrexone won’t lead to physical dependence.

Understanding Naltrexone’s Mode of Action: Does It Make the Drug Addictive?

Naltrexone is a medication that doctors prescribe to their patients who suffer from opioid or alcohol addiction. It’s an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of addictive opioids like heroin, oxycodone, and morphine.

Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are where addictive drugs bind to and cause the euphoric effects.

By attaching to these receptors and stimulating a transient euphoric and sedative effect, the patient may unnecessarily use this drug despite not having a medical problem just to get that sensation back.

When naltrexone binds to those opioid receptors, consuming the addictive opioid will have a drastically less potent effect on the patient.

Is Naltrexone Addictive?

Naltrexone stops opioids from binding to their receptors by binding itself to them. Doesn’t that make it addictive? The answer is no.

Despite binding to said receptors, naltrexone doesn’t fully activate them. Instead, it blocks them. In other words, taking naltrexone doesn’t produce the pleasurable sensation the patient gets from abusing opioids.

As such, the patient won’t feel the need to take naltrexone nor have any withdrawal side effects after stopping the drug use. Unlike opioids and other addictive drugs, naltrexone (under the doctor’s supervision) can be stopped abruptly without issues.

Can You Overdose on Naltrexone?

Consuming naltrexone doesn’t activate the opioid receptors, but can you overdose on it?

Unlikely. Naltrexone has a high therapeutic index, meaning the lethal dose is quite high. Patients also don’t get any pleasure from using naltrexone, which makes it unlikely for a patient to want more of it.

However, since naltrexone prevents the pleasurable effect of opioids, the patient might get an opioid overdose while trying to satisfy their opioid cravings.

Side Effects of Naltrexone

Despite not being addictive, naltrexone has a list of side effects that make it a drug to be handled with care.

Naltrexone’s common (but less severe) side effects include:

  • Toothache
  • Cold symptoms (pain in the head and joints)
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Occasional dizziness
  • Loss of appetite

Except for nausea and vomiting, all of these side effects are somewhat bearable. Both nausea and vomiting will also subside gradually the more you get used to the drug.

Still, despite not being serious, you should report the side effects you’re experiencing to your doctor.

Unfortunately, naltrexone can cause some serious side effects that include:

  • Face and eye swelling
  • Skin rash, blisters, lumps, and open wounds at the site of injection
  • Yellowing of eyes
  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Dark urine

While these side effects are fairly less common, you should immediately inform your doctor if you experience any of them.

Note: Naltrexone treatment should start after the opioid withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Otherwise, it’ll increase the duration of these symptoms.


Naltrexone competes with opioids over the same brain receptors and doesn’t fully activate them when it binds to them. That’s why it reduces the effects of addictive drugs without being addictive itself.

However, care should be taken while taking naltrexone, as it has a considerable list of side effects. It’s important to keep track of such effects if possible and to keep your doctor in the loop.


Leave a Comment

Join our newsletter

Get Connected. Get Help. Join Us

The Curednation newsletter. We’ll send you unbiased and professional insights from our email list.

Plug in your Email


All Resources, to help your Recovery

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

View all Resources

Is 12 Hours Long Enough to Wait to Take Suboxone?

Typically, you can wait for at least 12 hours after using short-acting opioids before taking Suboxone. That said, the ...

Does Brixadi Have Naloxone in It?

People receiving care for severe opioid use disorder (OUD) are at increased risk of relapse. This makes it critical ...

How Much Is Suboxone With Insurance? (And Without)

Suboxone treatment has become indispensable in managing the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. That said, the cost of medication-assisted treatment ...

How Effective is Vivitrol for Opioid Use Disorder?

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid use disorder, there is a high chance that Vivitrol ...

How to Get Vivitrol Out of Your System

Vivitrol is an FDA-approved medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence, as well as to help support sobriety ...

Vivitrol Discount: What’s the Best Way to Save?

If you’re exploring treatment plans for alcohol and opioid dependence, you might come across Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a name-brand ...

Certified, Proven and Private

Curednation: A Place to Recover

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

I’ve had a great experience with curednation. I was not sure about it first but I went ahead and started the treatment from them anyways and so far it’s been a dream. The doctors are very nice and helpful.


Dr. Carter is awesome I'm so excited to start my new journey and his team also very awesome and they make every visit welcoming.


Curednation is truly cares about the well-being of their Patients. I am really happy with the treatment I’ve received so far. A big thank you to the doctors.


I came across this service because it is more convenient to get virtual help. I had foot surgery and telemedicine is way better than finding a ride and not feel like an inconvenience to other people.


It was a great experience everybody was kind and very knowledgeable I look forward to our next meeting thank you


I have been doing the sessions for the last few weeks and it has been a life changer experience. I will say you have to do the work to get results. The more you do the better you will feel. They will educate you on ABC Medication, breathing technique and nutrition.