Naltrexone for Appetite Control?

Naltrexone & Bupropion

Naltrexone, typically used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence, has been investigated for its potential to suppress appetite and aid in weight management. Its mechanism of action in this context is not entirely clear, but it’s believed to involve interactions with brain regions involved in appetite regulation.

One common approach is to use a combination therapy of naltrexone with another medication called bupropion. This combination is marketed under the brand name Contrave. Bupropion is an antidepressant that also has been shown to reduce appetite and promote weight loss.

How Does It Work?

Naltrexone is thought to work by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, which may reduce food cravings and increase feelings of fullness. By combining it with bupropion, which acts on different neurotransmitter systems, the overall effect may be enhanced weight loss and appetite suppression.

It’s essential to note that while naltrexone and bupropion have shown promise in aiding weight loss, they are not a magic solution. They are typically prescribed as part of a comprehensive weight management program that includes diet, exercise, and behavioral therapy. Additionally, these medications may have side effects and are not suitable for everyone, so it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss medication regimen.

More About Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a medication primarily used in the management of alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid antagonists, meaning it blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. Naltrexone works by binding to opioid receptors and inhibiting their activity, which reduces the craving for opioids and alcohol and can help prevent relapse in individuals recovering from addiction.

There are several formulations of naltrexone available, including oral tablets, extended-release injectable formulations, and implants. The choice of formulation depends on factors such as the individual’s treatment needs and preferences.

In addition to its use in addiction treatment, naltrexone has also been investigated for its potential use in managing other conditions, such as impulse control disorders and certain types of self-injurious behaviors. However, its primary and most well-established use remains in the treatment of alcohol and opioid dependence.

Common & Rare Side Effects

Naltrexone, like any medication, can cause side effects, some of which are common and others that are rare. Common side effects are those that occur in a significant portion of people taking the medication, while rare side effects are those that occur infrequently. It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and some individuals may experience side effects not listed here. Here are common and rare side effects of naltrexone:

Common side effects of naltrexone may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Increased or decreased energy
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating

Rare side effects of naltrexone may include:

  • Allergic reactions, such as rash, itching, or hives
  • Liver problems (rare, but potentially serious)
  • Mood changes, including depression or suicidal thoughts (particularly in individuals with a history of depression or suicidal ideation)
  • Hallucinations or other psychotic symptoms
  • Seizures (although rare, seizures have been reported)
  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Blurred vision or other visual disturbances

It’s important for individuals taking naltrexone to be aware of these potential side effects and to report any unusual or concerning symptoms to their healthcare provider. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or taking other medications should consult their healthcare provider before starting naltrexone to ensure it is safe and appropriate for them.


Naltrexone has certain contraindications, meaning there are situations or conditions in which its use is not recommended due to potential risks.

Contraindications for naltrexone include:

  • Opioid Dependence: Naltrexone should not be initiated in individuals who are currently dependent on opioids, including those who are actively using opioids or those who have opioid withdrawal symptoms. Starting naltrexone in such individuals can precipitate severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Acute Opioid Withdrawal: Naltrexone should not be started in individuals who are experiencing acute opioid withdrawal symptoms. Initiating naltrexone during withdrawal can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms and cause severe discomfort.
  • Positive Opioid Test: Before starting naltrexone treatment, individuals should be tested to ensure they are not currently using opioids. A positive opioid test is a contraindication for starting naltrexone.
  • Hypersensitivity: Naltrexone is contraindicated in individuals who have a known hypersensitivity or allergy to naltrexone or any of its ingredients.
  • Severe Hepatic Impairment: Naltrexone is primarily metabolized in the liver, and severe hepatic impairment can affect its metabolism and increase the risk of adverse effects. Therefore, naltrexone is contraindicated in individuals with severe liver disease.
  • Use of Opioid Analgesics: Naltrexone should not be used concurrently with opioid analgesics, as it can block the effects of opioids and potentially lead to decreased pain relief or opioid withdrawal in individuals who require pain management.
  • Positive Pregnancy Test or Breastfeeding: Naltrexone is not recommended for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding due to potential risks to the fetus or infant. If naltrexone treatment is considered necessary for a pregnant or breastfeeding individual, the potential risks and benefits should be carefully evaluated by a healthcare provider.
  • Inability to Achieve Abstinence: Naltrexone therapy requires a period of abstinence from opioids and alcohol before initiation. Individuals who are unable or unwilling to achieve and maintain abstinence should not start naltrexone treatment.

It’s important for healthcare providers to carefully assess each individual’s medical history and current health status before prescribing naltrexone to ensure it is safe and appropriate for them. Additionally, individuals considering naltrexone treatment should discuss any concerns or questions with their healthcare provider.