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Understanding the Contrave Side Effects 

Oct 11, 2023
Understanding the Contrave Side Effects 
Since 42% of U.S. adults live with obesity and nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, losing weight is a popular topic.1,2

Contrave is an approved prescription weight loss medication for treating overweight and obesity. It is especially helpful for people who describe themselves as emotional eaters who struggle with food cravings.

Since 42% of U.S. adults live with obesity and nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight, losing weight is a popular topic.1,2 Government agencies, insurance companies, researchers, and individuals living with this condition are working to better understand the causes of obesity and how best to treat it.

In recent years, several highly effective prescription weight loss medications have become available, arming healthcare providers with nonsurgical options to treat obesity, a condition that tends to increase with increasing age.

Contrave is intended to be used along with a reduced-calorie diet and an exercise plan. Implementing a comprehensive weight management plan will give you the best chance to achieve optimal before and after results. Contrave can improve your body composition and positively impact your sexual health.

Like most medications, Contrave has known side effects. The medication is not appropriate or safe for all people. Understanding Contrave side effects can help you work with your doctor to determine whether Contrave is the proper weight-loss medication for you.

Mild Side Effects of Contrave 

Before seeking approval, medications undergo clinical trials to assess their safety and efficacy. One of the essential outcomes of these clinical trials is an understanding of how commonly side effects occur in the group taking the study medication when compared to the control group. As medication usage becomes more widespread, additional side effects may be reported.

Milder or more common side effects reported by people taking Contrave include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Altered taste
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hot flush
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Influenza
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle strain
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Ringing in ears
  • Stomach virus
  • Tremor
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vomiting

This is not a complete list of potential side effects. For more information, see the Contrave Medication Guide or ask your pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects of Contrave

Serious side effects can also occur when taking Contrave, including the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Depression, anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Mania
  • Mood changes
  • Allergic reactions: rash, itching, hives, fever, swollen lymph glands, painful mouth sores, swelling of the lip or tongue, chest pain, trouble breathing
  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Liver damage or hepatitis
  • Visual problems (angle-closure glaucoma)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Seizures

Contrave has a boxed warning for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

How Can I Minimize the Risk of Side Effects? 

The best way to minimize the risk of side effects is to take Contrave precisely as prescribed and call your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any side effects, start a new medication, or are diagnosed with another medical condition.

When taking Contrave, follow the dosage instructions carefully. According to the manufacturer, Contrave is dosed:

Morning DoseEvening doseTotal daily dose
Week 1one tabletnone8 mg naltrexone/90 mg bupropion
Week 2one tabletone tablet16 mg naltrexone/180 mg bupropion
Week 3two tabletsone tablet24 mg naltrexone/270 mg bupropion
Week 4 and aftertwo tabletstwo tablets32 mg naltrexone/360 mg bupropion

To minimize the risk of side effects when taking Contrave:

  1. Take Contrave with a low-fat meal: Bupropion can cause seizures, and the risk increases as the dose increases. Fatty foods can increase the absorption and concentration of Contrave in the body. More Contrave is released into the bloodstream too quickly, increasing the seizure risk.
  2. Follow the prescribed dosage: The risk of side effects when taking Contrave increases with higher medication doses.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can reduce stomach aches and constipation.
  4. Avoid alcohol: Alcohol consumption while taking Contrave increases the risk of seizures and other side effects.
A diet plan, tape measure, apple, and dumbbell contrave side effects

Do Contrave Side Effects Go Away?

Milder side effects associated with Contrave generally improve within a few days to weeks. More serious side effects may be permanent. Contact your doctor or pharmacist for guidance if you have concerns about side effects.

Contrave Interactions 

Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as vitamins and herbal products.

Some classes of medications Contrave is known to interact with include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Some antidepressants
  • Some antipsychotics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Some antiarrhythmics
  • Opioids
  • Dopaminergic drugs
  • Drugs that lower the seizure threshold, such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, theophylline, and corticosteroids

Who Should Not Take Contrave?

Before starting any new medication, it is essential to provide your doctor with a complete medical history. People with some medical conditions are more likely to experience serious side effects when taking Contrave.

According to the manufacturer, people with the following conditions should not take Contrave. This list is not complete. See the Contrave medication guide for more complete information.

Do not take Contrave if you:

  • Have uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Have or had seizures
  • Take other medications that contain bupropion
  • Have been diagnosed with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
  • Are dependent on opioids, or are taking medications to stop taking opioids
  • Drink excessive alcohol, take sedatives, benzodiazepine, or anti-seizure medications
  • Take medications classified as monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients in Contrave

Discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of taking Contrave if you have any of the following:

  • History of depression
  • Past suicidal attempts
  • History of seizures
  • History of a head injury
  • Brain tumor or brain infection
  • Low blood sugar or low blood sodium
  • Liver problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes
  • Kidney problems
  • Diabetes or taking medications for diabetes
  • Have a history of an eating disorder
  • Drink alcohol
  • Abuse prescription medications or street drugs
  • Are over age 65
  • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed

When To See a Doctor

Contrave has common side effects that are usually mild gastrointestinal side effects that improve over time, but there is also the potential for Contrave to cause serious side effects. This is one reason the medication dosage is slowly increased. If you notice any concerning side effects, seek immediate medical attention.

If you have milder side effects that are not improving or are not losing weight with Contrave, contact your doctor to discuss your options.

Infographics Semaglutide

Conclusion Contrave Side Effects

As you weigh the pros and cons of Contrave for weight loss, considering all potential side effects is vital. If semaglutide emerges as a suitable alternative for your health goals, Invigor Medical offers a streamlined approach to buy semaglutide, supported by healthcare professionals. Embrace a proactive stance in managing your weight by exploring the options available at Invigor Medical. For more detailed information, visit their website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do side effects of Contrave go away?

Side effects of Contrave may diminish over time for some individuals, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and monitoring.

How long does it take to adjust to Contrave?

The time it takes to adjust to Contrave can vary among individuals. Typically, it may take a few weeks for the body to adapt to the medication’s effects. Patience and regular communication with a healthcare provider are essential during this period.

How do you know if Contrave is working?

Monitoring changes in weight, appetite, cravings, and overall well-being can help determine if Contrave is effective. Consulting with a healthcare provider for regular check-ups and assessments is recommended.

What to avoid while on Contrave?

While taking Contrave, it’s advisable to avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, as it may increase the risk of side effects such as seizures. Additionally, avoiding high-fat meals may help minimize gastrointestinal discomfort. As always, consulting with a healthcare provider for personalized guidance is essential.

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

Understanding the Contrave Side Effects 

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.


  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Obesity Update 2017.
  • Stierman B, Afful, J., Carroll, M. D., Chen, T.-C., Davy, O., Fink, S., Fryar, C. D. H., Gu, Q., Hales, C. M., Hughes, J. P., Ostchega, Y., Storandt, R. J., & Akinbami, L. J. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017–March 2020 Prepandemic Data  Files—Development of Files and Prevalence Estimates  for Selected Health Outcomes. Vol. 158. 2021.


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