Naltrexone: How Long Should People Take It?

Oar Health Editorial Team


Jan 24, 2024

Oar Health’s medical experts recommend that people prescribed naltrexone continue treatment for one year before making an individualized decision about stopping treatment.

Because alcohol use disorder is a chronic condition that typically develops over many years, it also takes time to recover. Evidence suggests that patients who continue treatment with medication longer achieve better results.

After one year of treatment with naltrexone, continuing or discontinuing treatment is a highly individualized decision.

Some people continue taking naltrexone indefinitely to sustain the changes they have made in their drinking. This is considered safe and appropriate.

Other people wish to discontinue naltrexone. The general rule of thumb is that it is appropriate to discontinue naltrexone when a person has met their goals to give up alcohol or drink within healthy limits and sustained their progress over a period of time, such as several months.

Yet other patients discontinue daily use of naltrexone, but continue to take the medication on a targeted or as-needed basis. For example, some patients take a dose before a high risk situation, like a work happy hour or a wedding celebration where alcohol will be served.

When a patient is ready to discontinue naltrexone, there is no need to taper off of the medication because naltrexone does not create physical dependency.

One size does not fit all when it comes to continuing or discontinuing treatment with naltrexone. Oar Health’s medical experts recommend that people considering discontinuing treatment consult with a healthcare professional, such as the medical providers who practice on the Oar Health platform.

About The Author

Oar is a telemedicine platform that makes science-backed, medication-assisted addiction treatment approachable and accessible for millions of consumers who feel excluded by the current treatment landscape and who may have a wide range of goals, from moderation to abstinence.

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  • How It Works
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  • ¹ Oar Health membership plans include access to the Oar Health platform, virtual consultations with a healthcare professional, and medication if prescribed. Annual membership plan costs $468, equating to $39/mo.
  • ² Self-reported by members after 6 months of Oar Health membership
  • ³ Verywell Health survey of Oar Health members, published March, 2023
  • ⁴ Prescription medication is available only if prescribed by a licensed clinician
Naltrexone is a prescription medication used to treat alcohol dependence. It is available only if prescribed by a healthcare provider. You should not take naltrexone if you use opioids, including prescription drugs or street drugs that contain opioids, as naltrexone can cause sudden opioid withdrawal. Common side effects of naltrexone include nausea, sleepiness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, decreased appetite, painful joints, muscle cramps, and trouble sleeping. These are not all of the side effects of naltrexone. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or do not go away.
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