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What Factors Affect Naltrexone Dosage?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson

Naltrexone is given to people looking to break an addiction to opiates or alcohol. The dosage can be affected by the severity of the condition being treated, whether the drug has been taken before, and the method of administration of the drug. Generally the recommended naltrexone dosage is 50 milligrams (mg) per day, but in recovering alcoholics, a smaller dose of 25 mg may be sufficient. It is also possible to take naltrexone as an extended release injection, in which case the recommended dosage drops to 380 mg per month. These injections are administered through the buttocks.

Naltrexone is classed as an opiate antagonist. The drug opposes the effects of opiates, by either reducing or removing withdrawal symptoms or by lessening the effects of the drugs themselves. Opiates are classed as narcotics, and drugs that fall into the category include morphine, codeine, oxycodone and heroin. Naltrexone dosage is administered after patients have been off of opiates for seven to ten days and are wishing to break free of the addiction. Although the drug is also used for alcohol-dependent patients, it isn’t technically classed as an alcohol antagonist. Naltrexone is available in 50 mg tablets.

Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates, such as heroin.
Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates, such as heroin.

For opiate withdrawal, the recommended naltrexone dosage is 50 mg per day. This is the basic rule, but the dosages can be arranged in a variety of different ways to suit the patient’s wishes; getting the patient to take the drug is obviously a big step in the recovery process. For example, instead of taking one 50 mg pill a day, the patient can choose to take two pills every other day, or one pill a day Monday to Friday, and two on Saturday. As long as the treatment averages out to 50 mg per day, the drug will take effect.

The naltrexone dosage for recovering alcoholic patients is the same as for opiate-dependent patients. The only difference is that some patients, such as those who do not have as serious an alcohol problem or those who respond well to the treatment, may only require 25 mg per day. Again, this dosage can be taken in any way, as long as it equates to the required amount of milligrams per day.

The initial naltrexone dosage should be 25 mg. This dosage is a test, to ensure the patient does not have an adverse reaction to the treatment. An hour after the test dosage, another 25 mg can be administered if no complications occur. Generally, for opiate-dependent patients, a drug test should be given prior to dosage because if the patient still has opiates in their system, the drug could bring on withdrawal effects instead of removing them.

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    • Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates, such as heroin.
      By: Richard Villalon
      Naltrexone blocks the effects of opiates, such as heroin.