The Risks of Buying Naltrexone Online Without a Prescription

There are dangers that you may not be aware of when you buy naltrexone online without a prescription.

Properly prescribed and taken as directed, naltrexone can play an important role in your recovery from alcohol or opioids. It can help to diminish alcohol cravings for those struggling to reduce or stop their drinking. For people in stable recovery from opioids, it can help to reduce cravings and lessen the chance of a slip. Since accessing healthcare can sometimes be difficult for Americans, it isn’t surprising that many try to bypass the red tape by purchasing naltrexone online without a prescription. “What could go wrong?” they ask. A lot could go wrong! The risks of taking this shortcut far outweigh the benefits.

Here are some of the dangers of buying naltrexone online without a prescription:

1. If you buy without a prescription, there is no quality control.

When you have a prescription and receive your naltrexone from an authorized doctor or pharmacy, you know that it has been through rigorous quality control. From the manufacturer to the pharmacist, the meds have been subjected to meticulous care and scrutiny. But when you purchase naltrexone online without a prescription, you have no such assurance. Some online sellers offer poor quality, expired, or damaged medications. All of these issues can have a major impact on how they function … if they function at all. Others sell pharmaceuticals that have been corrupted or cut with something else, or that are entirely counterfeit. You could receive the wrong medication or no medication, and you have no way of knowing. 

2. If you haven’t been prescribed naltrexone, you can’t be sure you’re taking it safely.

Naltrexone is not an over-the-counter medication. It needs to be administered under the care of a clinician who can determine the best dosage, assess your risks, and monitor your health. Naltrexone can have side effects, and it may have serious interactions with other medications that you’re taking. With the version that is injected once-a-month (Vivitrol), doing it yourself without guidance also adds the risks of IV drug use (like injecting in the wrong place, having contaminated sharps, or mismeasuring your dose). Not to mention that if you have any opioids in your system, naltrexone can send you right into withdrawal! With proper medical supervision, naltrexone can be safe and helpful. But taking it on your own without oversight is just too much of a risk. 

3. Buying naltrexone online from another country may not save you the money you think it will.

It might seem logical that buying naltrexone from an online pharmacy would be cheaper than buying it from an authorized source, but it often isn’t! The prices charged by these “discount” sellers can actually be higher than you would pay at a clinic. Not only are costs variable, but online sellers won’t work with your insurance or accept your Health Savings Account (HSA). If you buy online, you will also likely have to pay (sometimes very expensive) shipping costs to have medication shipped from another country. 

4. If you buy naltrexone without a prescription, your doctor won’t know to take it into account.

When you purchase naltrexone illicitly, you might feel like you have to hide it from your healthcare team. It won’t be listed in your medical records, so doctors and pharmacists don’t know to check for interactions and contraindications. If you get in an accident, have a relapse and overdose, or have another medical emergency, the paramedics’ treatment of you could be compromised. Knowing what medications you take is a crucial piece of information for your healthcare providers. Buying without a prescription makes it less likely that they will be able to treat you properly.

5. Purchasing naltrexone from another country might lead to your meds being caught up by Customs.

Even when everything goes as planned, shipments from international sellers are commonly delayed by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections. These delays can stretch to more than 35 days. When you’re counting on a prescription refill, this kind of delay isn’t workable. But what if shipping doesn’t go as planned? CBP regularly seizes pharmaceuticals coming from other countries. If this happens, you won’t receive your medication at all! 

6. When you buy naltrexone without a prescription, you won’t get a full treatment plan. 

Naltrexone isn’t a quick fix that works all by itself. Like other pharmaceuticals used in medically assisted treatment, it has the best results when it’s part of a comprehensive treatment plan. At Workit Health, that plan includes the naltrexone prescription, telemedicine care with a qualified clinician, and online therapy. Taking the medication on its own simply isn’t enough for most people to reach their recovery goals. 

 

How to Help Someone Going Through Withdrawal

When a loved one is going through withdrawal, you may feel powerless. But there are things you can do to help!

Watching someone you care about—a friend, a family member, a significant other—struggling with addiction is hard. So it’s no surprise that you would be thrilled to hear that they are committed to quitting the substance that they’ve been using. On the heels of that happiness, though, you may feel afraid and uncertain when they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. 

What is withdrawal anyway?

Withdrawal” is a catch-all term that is used to describe the physical and psychological symptoms that come when a person stops (or significantly decreases) their use of a mind-altering substance. How severe withdrawal is depends on several factors: what substance the person has been using, how much they’ve used, and how long they’ve been using it. A person who is detoxing can experience physical symptoms like body aches, diarrhea, vomiting, sweating, racing heart, and insomnia. They may also experience psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, mood swings, and irritability. Top all of that off with cravings, and you have the recipe for a really tough time!  But there are some things that can make it less awful. 

Please be aware that this advice is not intended to replace medical care. Detoxing is hard. Withdrawal from alcohol, in particular, can be physically dangerous. If in doubt, please consult a doctor or a helpline. If the person you’re helping passes out, starts hallucinating, or has a seizure, call 911.

Physical ways to help someone going through withdrawal:

Have lots of drinks on hand. Staying hydrated is important all of the time, but it’s crucial during detox. Many of the physical symptoms of withdrawal can lead to dehydration, and it’s also likely that the person detoxing hasn’t been hydrating enough while using. Water is excellent, but if they crave variety and flavor, sports drinks and herbal teas are also good options. If you can find it, get some Pedialyte or the generic equivalent. Pedialyte, which was formulated for sick kids, has more electrolytes and less sugar than sports drinks, so it’s perfect for people going through withdrawal. 

Offer OTC remedies. There are over-the-counter meds that can help alleviate some of the physical symptoms the person who’s detoxing is suffering. Stomach remedies like Immodium, TUMS, and Pepto-Bismol can offer relief for diarrhea and stomach aches. Ibuprofen can help with the muscle aches. Dramamine is sold as motion-sickness medicine, and it can help soothe nausea, as can antihistamines like Benadryl. These won’t cure the physical symptoms, but mitigating the intensity can make a difference for the person going through them. 

Provide small, simple meals. The person in withdrawal may not feel like eating, but their body still needs fuel. Try to have basic, easy-to-eat things on hand, like fruit, yogurt, soup, and rice. Think mild, easily digestible comfort foods.

Create a comfy environment. Withdrawal is a bad time. Little comforts, like soft clothes, cozy blankets, readily available showers or baths, and favorite shows can make the misery of withdrawal a little more bearable. 

Mental/emotional ways to help someone going through withdrawal:

Try to stay patient and calm. When someone is detoxing, they may be irritable, anxious, agitated, and depressed. This can sometimes lead to unpleasant behavior and lashing out. Try to stay in a patient frame of mind. If possible, it can be helpful to have some other people on call, so that you can take turns providing support. 

Share resources about medically assisted treatment. The person who is detoxing may not be aware of the current options for medically assisted treatment for opioids and alcohol. You can direct them to information about it so that they can decide for themselves if that’s a route they would like to pursue

Keep hotline numbers on hand. It’s amazing that you are offering your support, but you’re only human! If you or the person going through withdrawal needs additional help, don’t be afraid to reach out. Here are some useful numbers:

  • SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357 – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides information services and treatment referrals in English and Spanish. 
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 – The Lifeline will connect you with a trained crisis worker who can provide support and direct you to further resources. 
  • Crisis Text Line: 741741 – Connect with a trained crisis-support volunteer via text. They offer non-judgmental support and can refer you to additional resources if necessary.

The fact is, withdrawal is unpleasant. But it’s also temporary. Your support can make it more possible for your friend or loved one to make it through to the other side!