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jay27

Naltrexone for bulimia?

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I'm just wondering if anyone has tried naltrexone for bulimia or binge eating disorder? I'm pretty sure treatment of eating disorders is an "off label" use, but I've heard of it being prescribed for this purpose. I'm considering talking to my psychiatrist about it as I feel like I have a really strong physiological addiction to binging and purging at this point that I am hoping might be helped by this medication... Has anyone tried naltrexone for this purpose? If so, did it help? What was your experience?

Thanks!

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YES!!! I am prescribed it for binge type eating, where the food is more like an addiction like cigarrettes are to a smoker. I have been ED free for almost 5 years now, but when I went on Clozaril a few years back it had this side effect (even stayed when I went off Clozaril) of food being an addiction. Naltrexone has worked wonders for me. I have never heard of others taking it for an eating problem other than myself until you. I LOVE this med and it is sooo worth it to be on. I will probably be on it for life, which I wouldnt want it any other way.

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Thanks for the response Melissaw72! It seems like this is a pretty rare use for naltrexone, so I have been having trouble finding any information. After hearing your experience I think it's definitely something I will at least mention to my psychiatrist though. Thank you!

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Melissaw72, I've been looking into naltrexone for binge eating quite a bit lately, and am really curious for more details about how it works for you. Do you mind if I ask:

1. What's your dosage? How many mg do you take and how often?

2. How long have you been on it?

3. If you don't take it, are you more likely to binge?

4. I know it's an opioid blocker. Are other, non-eating activities less enjoyable?

5. Does it decrease the urge to binge, make binges less enjoyable, or both?

Thanks!

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Melissaw72, I've been looking into naltrexone for binge eating quite a bit lately, and am really curious for more details about how it works for you. Do you mind if I ask:

1. What's your dosage? How many mg do you take and how often?

2. How long have you been on it?

3. If you don't take it, are you more likely to binge?

4. I know it's an opioid blocker. Are other, non-eating activities less enjoyable?

5. Does it decrease the urge to binge, make binges less enjoyable, or both?

Thanks!

I'm on a total of 150mg, 50 mg tabs 1 3x/day. It took awhile to get to that dose, and took awhile to get totally in my system to feel like I describe below.

I've been on it for at least 2 years, if not longer. Definitely not more than 4 years though.

I'm screwed if I dont take it because I will eat a lot (and for me I can really pack a lot of food in me) and just can't stop. I do want to say that I dont "binge" ... it is more an addiction to food (like a smoker to cigarettes). For me the difference is that being addicted to food, it isn't like a binge; just eating a lot for a long period of time, almost like my hunger meter (or whatever you call it) isn't working.

It doesnt affect any other non-eating activities for me. I guess you could say it helps indirectly, by keeping me not stuffed with food, able to do things and not obsessively think about food unending.

It calms the addiction down, lessens the urge, makes me crave less, and therefore I eat less. I still get hungry, like the "hunger meter" in me actually works, and I eat more of a reasonable amount and stop when I'm full. If I eat beyond it I regret it because I feel over-full and it is really uncomfortable.

I hope this helps!

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Thanks for your helpful response! How long did it take you to get to your dose and for it to be effective? And who prescribed it for you—a generic psychiatrist, or an addiction specialist?

I'd also describe my relationship to food as addictive. It used to be all day, all the time, but then three years ago, I went through a lot of difficult things and I was actually too stressed to eat. This was astounding because I always wanted to eat. After that two month period, it was like the food addiction part of my brain lost nearly all of its power. I might get an urge to compulsively eat, but it was manageable. It was the most wonderful thing imaginable—after nearly two decades of being trapped in this out-of-control relationship with food, I was free!

Unfortunately, I went through another stressful period about nine months ago, and now I am relapsing hard and quickly turning back to food. Right now, I'm mostly ok during the day but am binging every night. For a while I was fighting it, but now I've given in because (and this is maddening) I really enjoy it. Now it feels weird to not binge at night.

The normal "eating disorder" causes do not apply to me—it's not because I'm not eating enough during the day (a nutritionist analyzed my diet and said I was ok), I don't restrict, there's no forbidden foods, etc. Geneen Roth's whole "if you crave chocolate chip cookies, you just got to let yourself eat chocolate chip cookies until you don't want them anymore" philosophy does not apply. I have let myself give into the cravings completely and they never stop. They grow. Food relaxes me and makes me feel good. It's how I come down from the day. And there are other mental health issues that contribute to this, and I'm working on them, but binging is so psychologically distressing, it makes it so much harder to work on the underlying issues.

Anyway, I didn't mean for this to turn into my backstory. I'm just looking for something to help me break this addictive cycle that is quickly turning into a downward spiral. I'm hoping naltrexone would do that for me.

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Thanks for your helpful response! How long did it take you to get to your dose and for it to be effective? And who prescribed it for you—a generic psychiatrist, or an addiction specialist?

I went from 50 mg/day to 100 mg/day to 150 mg/day ... took a total of about 2-3 months to be effective completely, only because pdoc (regular, generic pdoc) was reluctant to give me the last 50mg/day. It would have been probably a shorter time had he just increased it to 50 mg/day when I asked.

I'd also describe my relationship to food as addictive. It used to be all day, all the time, but then three years ago, I went through a lot of difficult things and I was actually too stressed to eat. This was astounding because I always wanted to eat. After that two month period, it was like the food addiction part of my brain lost nearly all of its power. I might get an urge to compulsively eat, but it was manageable. It was the most wonderful thing imaginable—after nearly two decades of being trapped in this out-of-control relationship with food, I was free!

Unfortunately, I went through another stressful period about nine months ago, and now I am relapsing hard and quickly turning back to food. Right now, I'm mostly ok during the day but am binging every night.

This happened to me too ... looking back for me it was because I pretty much didn't eat all day, then at night rebounded and then some causing me to eat a lot/binge. I got out of that rut by eating more in the morning, then eating less and less as the day went on, and found that because I'd eaten more during the day I really didn't want more food/calories in me.

For a while I was fighting it, but now I've given in because (and this is maddening) I really enjoy it. Now it feels weird to not binge at night.

The normal "eating disorder" causes do not apply to me—it's not because I'm not eating enough during the day (a nutritionist analyzed my diet and said I was ok), I don't restrict, there's no forbidden foods, etc. Geneen Roth's whole "if you crave chocolate chip cookies, you just got to let yourself eat chocolate chip cookies until you don't want them anymore" philosophy does not apply. I have let myself give into the cravings completely and they never stop. They grow. Food relaxes me and makes me feel good. It's how I come down from the day. And there are other mental health issues that contribute to this, and I'm working on them, but binging is so psychologically distressing, it makes it so much harder to work on the underlying issues.

You're right, it did for me too. I can't say specifically what got me to not binge anymore though (it was just so gradual I really just dont know). It isn't an overnight thing (to stop), as you probably most likely know.

Anyway, I didn't mean for this to turn into my backstory. I'm just looking for something to help me break this addictive cycle that is quickly turning into a downward spiral. I'm hoping naltrexone would do that for me.

It did for me. Literally, I don't know what I would have done/would do without it, and give my pdoc a lot of credit for thinking of it and starting me on it. He must have seen it as an addiction before I did.

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Our experiences sound really similar, which gives me some hope that this might work. My psychiatrist has never prescribed it to anyone before. She wants to try another medication tweak first. If this doesn't work, I'm going to push for the naltrexone. Thanks again!

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Thanks for starting this thread. I've only had one doctor in the past mention naltrexone for bulimia, but now I might bring it up with my pdoc. I'm always looking for help for binge eating and bulimia. Now I have a little bit of hope :)

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I was prescribed Naltrexone in 2004 for bulimia. I thought it was the most helpful drug I'd ever been on. Before it, I'd sit and think about b/ping obsessively and couldn't get the thoughts to go away. Naltrexone significantly decreased those thoughts to the point where I didn't have to act on them and I could actually focus on other things.

Most, if not all, people are prescribed 50 mgs twice a day. Raising the dose really doesn't do anything for this drug.

The downside of the opioid blocker is just that if you took an opioid (say, Percocet), it wouldn't have any effect on you.

The one thing about Naltrexone is that it doesn't work forever. After a few years, it ceased to have any effect on me, so I stopped taking it. But in the beginning, it was a life saver.

Try it and see what you think. Good luck. :)

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Thanks to this thread, I finally talked to my pdoc and am starting on Naltrexone for binge eating/bulimia!  It's only day two, but I hope it helps. 

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Thanks to this thread, I finally talked to my pdoc and am starting on Naltrexone for binge eating/bulimia!  It's only day two, but I hope it helps. 

 

Good luck!  It took only about 2 months before I felt a complete difference.  During that time though, as the time went on, I had days where I got a glimpse of what it was like to not binge on food.  And after it took effect things were so much better.

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