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Revia (naltrexone) is an opioid antagonist used to help patients overcome some types of addiction, predominantly alcohol and opioid addiction. It is also sometimes used in a range of off-label uses.
Revia helps people overcome addiction by:
As with most addiction therapies, the medication works best if other measures are also employed; having a support network available, behavior modification and other such techniques.
Overcoming Opioid Addiction with Revia
The term opioid refers to any drugs which contain naturally-occurring opiates such as morphine or codeine, semi-synthetic opioids such as heroin or oxycodone, and purely synthetic versions which mimic the effects of opiates, such as methadone or tramadol.
Revia's effectiveness in overcoming opioid addiction is largely due to its blocking effects; it prevents the patient from deriving pleasure from opioids when they are used. Unfortunately it has little effect on cravings, which means Revia alone is unlikely to break the addiction.
The medication is most effective if:
Treatment may vary to some extent depending on the setting:
In both clinical settings and at home caution should be exercised when treatment starts. This is due to the fact that suddenly blocking opioids can cause potentially severe withdrawal effects. In a medical setting treatment is usually initiated by injecting very small amounts of the drug until it is determined that no withdrawal symptoms are going to occur. At home, without medical supervision, administration should only take place when the patient has been opioid-free for 7 to 10 days. On the first day a half-dose of 25 mg should be given; if no adverse symptoms develop, 50 mg per day may taken for the remainder of treatment.
Overcoming Alcohol Addiction with Revia
Revia is generally more effective when treating alcohol addiction because it not only reduces the pleasure derived from alcohol, it also curbs cravings.
Treatment may be initiated at any point, whether the patient has stopped drinking or not. 50 mg per day is taken in all scenarios. Treatment usually lasts a minimum of 12 weeks, and may be extended if needed.
The most effective technique can vary somewhat between individuals:
In the majority of cases a patient is more likely to succeed in overcoming alcohol addiction if he or she has access to support and avoids locations or activities strongly associated with drinking.
Side Effects and Other Considerations
When used properly (50 mg or less per day) Revia is unlikely to produce any side effects other than mild gastrointestinal upset, including indigestion, nausea and diarrhea. A few patients also experience mild headaches, dizziness and difficulty sleeping.
Ideally all patients--particularly those with a history of alcohol abuse--will have a liver function test before starting Revia.
Severe cramps, vomiting, mental changes, hallucinations and other alarming symptoms may be evidence of opioid withdrawal, particularly if they occur shortly after administration. Seek medical attention if these symptoms develop.
Be aware that Revia blocks the effects of all opioids, including those used for legitimate medical purposes. Care providers should be made aware that Revia is being taken, particularly before any medical procedures or in the event of injury.