Does Nalmefene help with alcohol addiction?

Yes, Nalmefene can be used to treat alcoholism. Nalmefene works by reducing the positive reward effect of alcohol and affects its sedative and dysphoric properties. More here on Nalmefene as a treatment for alcohol addiction (with a section for your questions at the end).

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Yes, recent studies have shown that Nalmefene can be effectively used to treat alcoholism.

Nalmefene is an opiate receptor antagonist which is commonly used to treat acute opioid overdose. So, how is it used in the management of alcohol dependence and addictive behaviors? And what is alcohol addiction exactly and how can Nalmefene help?

Find out more in the article that follows. Then, we invite your questions in the comment section at the bottom of the page. We try to respond to all questions about Nalmefene personally and promptly.

What is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic disease. Basically, drinking becomes a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a drinking problem, consult your doctor. You don’t need to suffer alone!

Know also that you don’t need to develop physical dependence on alcohol in order to be diagnosed with alcohol addiction. The main signs and symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • A need to drink alcohol to feel normal.
  • Strong cravings to drink, either before or once you start drinking.
  • Continued drinking despite repeated physical, psychological, or interpersonal problems.
  • The inability to limit drinking.

How can Nalmefene help with alcohol addiction?

Nalmefene is a semisynthetic opiate receptor antagonist which is similar in structure to naltrexone and oxymorphone. While commonly used to treat acute opioid overdose, Nalmefene has been recently studies in the treatment of chronic or heavy drinking. It has even been suggested that Nalmefene could be more effective than naltrexone in the treatment of alcohol dependence.

How does it work?

While most treatment objectives for alcoholism include total abstinence and prevention of relapse, reduction of alcohol consumption can be a stable goal, as well. Recent studies have shown that Nalmefene can help people reduce alcohol consumption, especially when combined with psychotherapy. Nalmefene has been shown to significantly help reduce the number of heavy drinking days and mean daily total alcohol consumption in studies when taken versus placebo.

Nalmefene is able to reduce alcohol consumption by reducing the positive reward effect of alcohol, as well as its sedative and dysphoric properties. Specifically, the drug can help reduce alcohol craving in response to external cues. The most common side effects of this Rx drug are reported to be nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and headache. The majority of these reactions were mild or moderate and of short duration.

Nalmefene prescription for alcohol addiction treatment

You can get a prescription for Nalmefene by speaking with your family doctor or by seeing a addiction medicine specialist MD. It should be taken on an as-needed basis each day that that you perceive a risk of drinking alcohol, with a maximum dose of one tablet per day. Clinical data for the use of Nalmefene under randomised controlled conditions are available for a period of 12 months, and caution is advised in the drug license if Nalmefene is prescribed for more than 1 year.

Who CAN use Nalmefene for alcohol addiction help?

Nalmefene appears to be an effective treatment to reduce alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent individuals not wanting to become totally abstinent. It differs from other drug therapies essentially by replacing systematic dosing by “as-needed” dosing adapted to the patient’s clinical situation on a day-to-day basis. Patients therefore take Nalmefene when they feel that alcohol consumption is imminent. Nalmefene is well tolerated overall.

Who SHOULDN’T use Nalmefene?

Nalmefene must not be used in people who are hypersensitive (allergic) to it or any of its other ingredients. It must not be used in patients taking opioid medicines, in patients who have been diagnosed with current or recent opioid addiction, patients with acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal, or patients in whom recent use of opioids is suspected. This medicine must also not be used in patients with severe liver or kidney impairment or a recent history of acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (including hallucinations, seizures, and tremors).

Nalmefene help with alcohol addiction questions

Please leave us your questions about Nalmefene in the comments section below. We will try our best to answer your questions ASAP with a professional and personal response.

Reference Sources: CDC: Alcohol and Public Health
LiverTox: Nalmefene
NCBI: Nalmefene: a new approach to the treatment of alcohol dependence
NIH: Treatment of Alcohol Dependence With Medications
NCBI: The cost-effectiveness and public health benefit of nalmefene
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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