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Mixing Alcohol and Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

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Naltrexone, also known by its brand name Vivitrol, is used to treat symptoms of alcohol and opioid abuse. It is important to note that while rare, there are some side effects of taking naltrexone and serious risks associated with mixing the medication with alcohol.

If you or someone you care about struggles with dependence on alcohol or another substance, Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

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What Is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication from alcohol when taken as prescribed.

Opioid antagonists are medications used to counteract the effects of opioids, such as pain relief or a feeling of euphoria. They work by blocking opioid receptors in the brain and other parts of the body, preventing opioids from binding to them and having an effect. You can think of an opioid antagonist as a “key” that unlocks opioid receptors so opioids can no longer bind to them and have an impact.

Naltrexone has been used to treat opioid dependence for many years and can help reduce cravings for alcohol in those struggling with alcohol use disorder. It can be combined with other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or 12-step programs to help you achieve long-term sobriety.

Common Side Effects of Taking Naltrexone

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headache
  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Constipation.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Fatigue.

Some people may experience more serious side effects, such as liver damage or severe allergic reactions. It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects while taking naltrexone.

Alcohol Can Influence Effectiveness of Medications & May Worsen Side Effects

Drinking alcohol while taking naltrexone can influence the effectiveness of medications and may worsen any existing side effects. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol while taking naltrexone to maximize its effectiveness and minimize potential risks associated with mixing the two substances.

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Does Alcohol Interfere With the Effectiveness of Opioid Antagonist Medications?

Alcohol consumption can interfere with the effectiveness of opioid antagonists, such as naloxone or naltrexone, in several ways. Opioid antagonists are medications that block the effects of opioids and are commonly used in treating opioid overdose or addiction. While they are generally safe and effective, combining them with alcohol can have undesirable results.

Impact on the Central Nervous System

Both alcohol and opioid antagonists can depress the central nervous system (CNS). Consuming them together can intensify these depressive effects, leading to increased sedation, drowsiness, respiratory depression, and even the risk of overdose. In severe cases, respiratory depression can be life-threatening.

Reduced Efficacy

When you drink alcohol while taking naltrexone, it may decrease the medication’s ability to suppress cravings and discourage alcohol use.

Liver Damage

Both alcohol and some opioid antagonists, such as naltrexone, can have hepatotoxic effects, meaning they can damage the liver. Using them together increases the risk of liver damage. Patients with underlying liver disease or compromised liver function should exercise caution when combining alcohol and opioid antagonists.

Does Naltrexone Prevent You From Becoming Impaired?

Naltrexone does not prevent the intoxicating effects of alcohol. When you drink alcohol while taking naltrexone, you may still experience its usual effects, such as impaired judgment, motor coordination, and cognitive functions. You may also be tempted to drink more because you don’t intoxicated (the “buzz”). Drinking may also affect you more intensely because naltrexone reduces your body’s tolerance for alcohol.

Does Naltrexone Treat Alcoholism?

Naltrexone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcoholism. It can be used as part of a comprehensive recovery plan to help those struggling with alcohol abuse disorders.

When taken as prescribed, naltrexone helps reduce the urge to drink and can make it easier for people to stay sober. Naltrexone also helps reduce withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting drinking, such as anxiety and depression.

Can Drinking Alcohol While Taking Naltrexone Cause Adverse Symptoms?

Alcohol and naltrexone are two substances that should not be taken together. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist used to treat symptoms of alcohol and opioid abuse, but drinking alcohol while taking naltrexone can have serious consequences.

Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication from alcohol, so it can be difficult to recognize how much you are drinking or how impaired you are becoming. This can lead to dangerous levels of intoxication, which can cause severe health problems such as liver damage or even death. Additional effects of mixing alcohol and naltrexone include respiratory depression and poor decision-making.

If you stop taking naltrexone suddenly after being on it for a long time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and insomnia.

What Should You Not Mix With Naltrexone?

Many medications interact with naltrexone, making it crucial that you not take it illicitly and inform your health care provider of all your prescriptions before they prescribe it.

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No matter the substance, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at Guardian Recovery. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and skilled administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call and work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you have to do is ask; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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