Low-Dose Naltrexone and Addiction Treatment

Written by Kathy Lynch, PharmD – Women’s International Pharmacy

Naltrexone has been FDA-approved for the treatment of alcoholism since 1994. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects, and headache, dizziness, fatigue, and insomnia can occur as well. Patients with acute hepatitis, liver failure, or abnormal liver function tests should not use naltrexone.

Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has fewer side effects and contraindications than regular strength naltrexone. Dr. Paolo Mannelli found that LDN is effective in decreasing alcohol use after narcotic withdrawal treatment. It also improved the effectiveness of the narcotic treatment program itself.

In a second study, Dr. Mannelli found that the use of LDN, in conjunction with narcotic withdrawal treatment, reduced tobacco consumption while improving treatment outcomes. Dr. Mannelli concluded that further studies should explore the use of LDN in the treatment of both alcohol and alcohol-narcotic dependency, as well as in smoking cessation trials involving individuals with and without substance abuse.

  • Mannelli P, et al. Problem Drinking and Low-Dose Naltrexone-Assisted Opioid Detoxification. J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs; 2011; 72:507-513.
  • Mannelli P, et al. Smoking and Opioid Detoxification: Behavioral Changes and Response to Treatment. Nicotine Tob Res; 2013 Oct; 15(10):1705-13.