Naltrexone is a prescription medication used for treating both alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders. It works by blocking the brain’s opioid receptors, which create a feeling of euphoria when someone uses drugs or alcohol. By reducing the euphoric effects associated with alcohol, naltrexone also lowers alcohol cravings and reduces drinking among people receiving medication assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use disorder. Since naltrexone has these effects, people often wonder, “Can you drink on naltrexone?” Learn the full answer below. 

Can You Drink While Taking Naltrexone?

Drinking while taking naltrexone is not dangerous in and of itself, but the intended purpose of this medication is to help you reduce your drinking. You will not become ill if you drink while on the medication, but for many people, the best option when in alcohol use disorder treatment is to avoid drinking altogether.

One thing to keep in mind when drinking on naltrexone is that while you may not feel the usual “buzz” or feeling of euphoria that hits when you’re under the influence of alcohol, you will still be impaired. This is because alcohol not only influences the body’s opioid receptors; it also increases levels of a brain chemical called GABA, which is responsible for the sedative effects and impairment of coordination that occur when someone is intoxicated.

Since naltrexone only acts as an opioid blocker, it will not stop the GABA-increasing effects of alcohol consumption. So the answer to, “Can you get drunk on naltrexone?” is actually yes, but you won’t feel the “buzz” associated with being drunk. This means that you may feel as if you are okay to drive or operate machinery when drinking on naltrexone, when in reality you are still impaired and could be placing yourself and others in danger.

In summary, drinking on naltrexone may not produce directly harmful side effects, but can still create dangerous and harmful situations, as you can find yourself impaired without experiencing the common-side effects of drinking. 

Drinking Alcohol While Taking Naltrexone

In many cases, completely abstaining from alcohol consumption is the goal of a treatment program. While drinking on naltrexone may not be ideal for many people, some may choose to use this medication to simply cut back on alcohol use, so their consumption no longer reaches a dangerous level.

Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings and significantly decreases the euphoric effects of alcohol consumption, which makes drinking  less pleasurable. For heavy drinkers, taking naltrexone may allow them to reduce their drinking to a more moderate level. In fact, naltrexone has been found to be effective for reducing heavy drinking levels. 

What To Avoid When Taking Naltrexone   

If you’re taking naltrexone for alcohol use disorder, there are certain things you should avoid. First, if you are still drinking while taking naltrexone, you should avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or engaging in other potentially dangerous activities when drinking. You may not feel like you are impaired since naltrexone blocks alcohol’s euphoric effects, but you could still be intoxicated. 

You should also avoid taking opioid drugs, like hydrocodone, vicodin, or codeine while in naltrexone treatment. Since naltrexone blocks the opioid receptors, it may cause opioid withdrawal symptoms if you take these medications for a week or more. You may have to be very cautious about what medications you take, because some cough syrups contain opioids. Consult with a doctor to ensure that medications you are taking will not lead to opioid withdrawal. You also must consider that naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, so taking opioids while on naltrexone will make the opioids ineffective.

Frequently Asked Questions 

If you’re wondering, “Can you drink on naltrexone?” the following information will address any additional questions you may have. 

Can You Drink Occasionally On Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is used in alcohol disorder treatment to help people reduce their drinking. While many people have a goal of abstaining completely from alcohol while in treatment, some may choose to reduce their drinking to more moderate levels. Since naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings, it can help people to cut back on drinking, so that they drink only occasionally. 

Does Naltrexone Work For Heavy Drinkers?

Naltrexone has been found to be effective for reducing heavy drinking. Because it suppresses the euphoric effects of alcohol and reduces the drive to drink, making it useful for reducing heavy drinking. 

What Happens If You Drink Alcohol While Taking Naltrexone?

Drinking on naltrexone will not produce the usual effects that a person experiences when they consume alcohol. The naltrexone will block the euphoric effects of alcohol, so you will not feel the “buzz” or the sensation of being drunk. However, you may still be impaired. Beyond this, you will not get sick if you drink while on naltrexone. 

Can I Take Naltrexone After Drinking?

If you have been drinking, it is important to take your next naltrexone dose as directed by your prescription. There is no harm in taking naltrexone after drinking. In fact, taking the medication consistently makes it more effective. 

How Long After Taking Naltrexone Can I Drink?

Naltrexone has a half-life of four hours and will block the effects of alcohol for about 24 hours. There is no need to wait a certain period of time to drink after taking naltrexone, but you will not feel the euphoric effects of alcohol if you have been taking naltrexone consistently.  

Can You Still Get Drunk On Naltrexone?

While you may not feel drunk since naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol, you can still become quite impraired when drinking on naltrexone. Given this fact, you should not drive if you drink while on naltrexone, even if you feel safe to drive. 

How Effective Is Naltrexone For Reducing Drinking? 

Clinical trials conducted to establish naltrexone as an effective medication for reducing drinking have found that the medication is significantly more effective than a placebo. In one study, 51% of patients taking naltrexone were able to abstain completely from alcohol, compared to 23% taking a placebo. The drinking relapse rate was 31% for patients on naltrexone and 60% for those taking a placebo. 

Consult With Confidant’s Online Doctors To Receive Naltrexone Treatment From Home

If you’re in search of medication assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder, Confidant Health allows you the option of working with a doctor from the comfort of home. With our app, you can consult with a doctor and receive a naltrexone prescription without a face-to-face office visit.

Download the Confidant app today, on either the Apple Store or the Google Play Store, to begin online medication assisted treatment