Naltrexone For Alcohol Abuse. Sinclair Method Treatment

Last Updated: June 24, 2020

Authored by Olivier George, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Naltrexone is a prescription medication often used to help alcoholics and alcohol abusers manage their addiction. While there are numerous medications used for this, naltrexone for alcohol addiction works a bit differently. Here is what users should know about naltrexone for alcoholism.

Naltrexone For Alcoholism: Therapy

Naltrexone for alcohol abuse treatment has FDA approval. That’s why most doctors can prescribe it if needed. Vivitrol is the brand name of naltrexone. No matter if someone is taking the brand name drug or its generic, the medication functions the same. The fact that Vivitrol belongs to the class of medications known as opiate antagonists determines how naltrexone works.

This means that it blocks the effects of any substance that acts on the opioid receptors in the body. While not considered an opiate or narcotic, alcohol also requires opioid receptors to induce the euphoric feelings that drive alcoholism.

Naltrexone For Alcohol Cravings

People taking the Vivitrol shot for alcohol abuse, taking the pill, or using the implant will still experience alcohol cravings at first. However, as time goes on, the mental cravings will subside. This is because as long as the user is taking their naltrexone dosage, they will not experience the euphoria that drives most mental addiction to liquor. Without the reward, the user may still feel pressure to drink in social situations, but not alone, and generally not to excess.

Naltrexone For Alcohol Withdrawal

While Vivitrol helps curb mental alcohol cravings, it does not do anything to lessen physical cravings or alcohol withdrawal. This is highly problematic for those who drink heavily prior to starting the medication. Alcohol withdrawal has the potential to be very painful and even deadly. While Vivitrol can help users drink less or even stop drinking, they will need a supervised withdrawal and detox process to reduce or end the use of spirits safely.

The Success Of Naltrexone

Vivitrol has been more widely studied in drug abuse than alcohol abuse. However, research has shown that when it is used for three months or more, it significantly outperforms placebos. It has been found to be most effective in users who continue to drink lightly at the start of their therapy rather than attempting to immediately stop using completely. It also performs best on those with significant cravings.

Does Vivitrol Block Alcohol?

Using Vivitrol for alcoholism does not block drinks in the body. The substance will still be there and all effects except the euphoria it can cause will be felt by the user. This means that the user may feel a lack of coordination, struggle with speech, have impaired reaction time, and could even drink to the point of alcohol poisoning.

For those looking to block alcohol, other medications are better. Users can talk to their doctor about naltrexone vs suboxone and other similar medicines. However, a major benefit of Vivitrol over other medications is how long Vivitrol lasts. Depending on the dose, it can block the euphoric effects of spirits for up to 72 hours. Injectable and implant forms last even longer.

Naltrexone Sinclair Method

There are various techniques and approaches for treating alcohol addiction, and one of them is the Sinclair Method with naltrexone. Once considered non-standard, it is growing in popularity.

naltrexone alcohol sinclair method

With the Sinclair method, the naltrexone dose is taken not at the start of the day but specifically before consuming alcohol. Users should take this dose one hour before they plan to drink. Dr. Sinclair, who created the method, claims that users who engage in the naltrexone alcohol Sinclair Method see a 78 percent success rate, compared to the typical 15 percent success rate for other methods. However, studies have not independently verified this claim.

Still, many rehab centers are turning to the naltrexone Sinclair Method because they believe they have seen it work better than other dosing options. Users considering Vivitrol treatment should discuss the possibility of the Sinclair Method with their doctor.

Getting Ready For Naltrexone Treatment

Patients getting ready for Naltrexone alcohol treatment should start by researching rehabilitation facilities. To get clean from drinking safely, a supervised environment is required. Once the withdrawal and detox process is complete, users will be able to manage their addiction through outpatient treatment.

Finally, users should look into naltrexone injection costs and the prices of other forms of medicine. If they have insurance coverage, they should contact the company to see if it is covered. And if it isn’t or they do not have insurance, they should start researching ways to make Vivitrol for alcohol use more affordable.

Getting Help With Alcohol Abuse

If someone is struggling with alcohol abuse, they need to seek help. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers offer effective substance abuse treatment and can help users get started with naltrexone treatment. With the right therapy, those abusing alcohol can get on the path to a better life.


Page Sources

  1. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/combine/faqs.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2565602/
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/programs_campaigns/medication_assisted/efficacy-naltrexone-treatment-alcohol-dependence.pdf
  4. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/018932s017lbl.pdf
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaudtreatment.html

Published on: June 7th, 2019

Updated on: June 24th, 2020

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

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