Nalmefene Side Effects
This section is not intended to scare anybody nor to put them off using nalmefene. It is purely for information purposes and it should always be kept in mind that whilst nalmefene can cause side effects in those using it these are rarely, if ever, more severe than a hangover and are usually much weaker. Neither is this section or any part of this website intended to pass judgement. This part of the website can thus be considered simply as forewarned is forearmed.
Perhaps the best angle to approach this from is to bear in mind the symptoms of a hangover and the additional costs to quality of life that drinking to excess brings.
Anyone seriously considering treatment for alcoholism or AUD is highly likely to have experienced bad hangovers. The fatigue and weakness, excessive thirst and dry mouth, headaches and muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and/or stomach pain, poor or decreased sleep, increased sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness or a sense of the room spinning, shakiness, decreased ability to concentrate, mood disturbances such as depression, anxiety and irritability and rapid heartbeat are some of the most common initial effects of heavy drinking and are likely to be no stranger to a TSMer or somebody contemplating using TSM to improve their life quality.
That is before we even get to the physical and emotional implications as well as the long term health issues, both bodily and mentally, as well as the financial cost. Drinking to excess is notoriously linked to mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety, high blood pressure, blackouts and is well-known to both cause these conditions in and of itself and to exacerbate any underlying issues. Add to this, weight gain, a general feeling of stodginess and tiredness as well as other alcohol-related conditions and of course the fact that alcohol is not cheap, particularly when drunk in pubs, bars and nightclubs and it is easy to see that alcohol can and does cause financial difficulties for many suffering with alcoholism or AUD. Another potential short-term implication of heavy drinking is the drinker finding themselves in legal problems and often because they have committed actions which they would never dream of having done sober or having only lightly consumed alcohol. In the worst case scenario, excessive drinking can mean an extremely unpleasant trip to casualty or even kill.
Further down the line, repeatedly drinking to excess is known to cause liver damage, and potentially cirrhosis, heart disease and stroke, various cancers, brain damage, pancreatitis, hepatitis and other serious illnesses.
If we set nalmefene's potential side effects in a patient against these issues we can take a more objective view of whether the potential side effects are something we can/want to cope with.
It would be a lie to say nalmefene comes with no side effects, though that is true of almost all medications, or that these side effects are rare. They are, however, extremely rarely, if ever, worse than a bad hangover and certainly incomparable, in their lightness, compared to some of the more serious implications of long-term drinking to excess.
In terms of commonality, these side effects range from the very common (affect >1 in every 10 people) which include nausea, dizziness, insomnia and headaches; to the common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100) including decreased appetite, vomiting, dry mouth, reduced sex drive, confusion and restlessness, sleepiness, tremor, changes in sensation, for example numbness, pins and needles or tingling, disturbance in attention, tachycardia (fast heart rate), palpitations (awareness of your heartbeat), excessive sweating, muscle spasms, feeling weak, tired or generally unwell and weight loss. There is also a possibility of hallucinations and/or a sense of feeling detached from yourself (tell your doctor if you suffer from either of these). The commonality of these, however, is unknown.
However, it must be firmly stressed again that these side effects are very seldom, if even at all, worse than a bad hangover and, as is normal with most medications, the body tends to become accustomed to taking the medication. In addition, the more progression you make with TSM the less you need to take the medication because you find yourself craving drink on fewer and fewer occasions until you reach extinction and can decide, in comfort rather than through self-denial, whether you want to drink at all. Also bear in mind that naltrexone is, despite there being misinformation that it isn't, available in Ireland via prescription, usually produces far less common side effects and if you find the side effects with nalmefene difficult you can always discuss naltrexone as an alternative option with your doctor. It would require him/her prescribing naltrexone off-label according to Irish prescribing directions. In essence what this means is that naltrexone has been approved in Ireland for treating other conditions but not actually for alcohol-related issues. However, this practice is not uncommon in the medical field, other countries, for example the United Kingdom and the United States have approved naltrexone for this purpose, and your doctor should be open to discussing this option. If needed, Curing Alcoholism Ireland can support you in this as well as other areas as outlined throughout this website.