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Vivitrol Providers

Vivitrol is the brand name for an extended-release, injectable suspension formulation of the drug naltrexone—an opioid receptor antagonist approved for use in treating both alcohol and opioid addiction.1,2 Naltrexone prevents opioid receptor activation to diminish some of the rewarding euphoric and sedating effects associated with either continued alcohol or opioid use.2 There is some evidence that naltrexone also helps to reduce opioid cravings in those recovering from opioid dependence.2 If a person relapses and uses a drug, naltrexone prevents them from feeling the desired high. By such a mechanism, a naltrexone regimen can decrease the likelihood of continued substance use. As an opioid antagonist medication, naltrexone has not risk of abuse and diversion potential.As with any medication used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), naltrexone should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes counseling and support groups—for a whole patient approach.2,3 

Quick Facts

Here are a few basic facts about Vivitrol that can help you better understand this drug:1,2,4 

  • Vivitrol is an injectable suspension formulation of naltrexone that is administered intramuscularly every four weeks.
  • Vivitrol is used to help prevent relapse among those recovering from alcohol or opioid dependence.
  • You need to be drug- and alcohol-free for at least 7-10 days prior to starting a Vivitrol prescription.
  • Vivitrol may induce acute opioid withdrawal in patients who still have opioids in their system at the time of administration.
  • The risk of opioid overdose may be higher in those who have used Vivitrol, as their opioid tolerance levels decrease during the therapeutic interval.
  • Vivitrol lowers risk of relapse by reducing some of the pleasurable effects of opioids and alcohol.
  • Vivitrol is not a cure for alcoholism or opioid dependence. It is best used as part of a well-rounded addiction treatment program.

Benefits

Vivitrol can be extremely helpful to some individuals in recovery. Some benefits of Vivitrol include:1,2,4 

  1. Vivitrol can help diminish the appeal of alcohol and opioid drugs.
  2. Unlike medications that require taking pills every day, Vivitrol’s monthly injection makes it easier to consistently take the medication as prescribed—without skipping a dose.
  3. Vivitrol blood levels may remain more stable than those of oral naltrexone.
  4. Vivitrol is not habit-forming. You won’t have to worry about developing a secondary addiction to naltrexone while being treated for your primary alcohol or opioid addiction.

As a component of MAT for alcohol use disorders, Vivitrol helps to reduce drinking behavior and lower the risk of relapse, which can allow a person to better focus on recovery as they participate in psychosocial therapy. For those struggling with opioid addiction, Vivitrol may diminish cravings and maladaptive responses to drug-conditioned cues to lower the likelihood of opioid relapse.2

As a component of MAT for alcohol use disorders, Vivitrol helps to reduce drinking behavior and lower the risk of relapse.

Sometimes all it takes to stop people from using drugs is simply the knowledge that using those drugs will not elicit pleasurable effects.


Risks

Risks of taking Vivitrol may include:1,2,4 

  1. Fatal drug overdose secondary to marked abatement of tolerance.
  2. Jeopardized recovery if you skip a dose.
  3. The potential for severe liver inflammation and damage.
  4. Injection site reactions: irritation, redness, swelling, lumps, pain, or tissue death.
  5. Higher costs, relative to oral naltrexone.

In addition to these health risks, Vivitrol is also relatively expensive when compared with oral naltrexone. Because Vivitrol blocks the feelings of euphoria from opioid drugs for a time, some individuals may try to “override” its capability by overloading the system with a huge amount of opioid drugs. However, using such an excessive dose of opioids can lead to an overdose that can be deadly.1


Side Effects

Be aware that you may experience any of the following common side effects when taking Vivitrol:1,2,4 

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Joint pain, muscle cramps.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Cold symptoms.
  • Loss of appetite.

The nausea you may feel after taking Vivitrol usually only occurs after the first injection dose. Many people do not feel nausea after subsequent injections of the medication.1

Side effects from the use of Vivitrol can include headache.Rarer side effects include:

  • Allergic pneumonia.
  • Other allergic reactions: breathing difficulties, wheezing, chest pain, dizziness, skin rashes, facial swelling.
  • Paranoia.
  • Severe depression.
  • Hepatitis.

Who Should Not Take Vivitrol?

Vivitrol treatmentCertain conditions do clearly indicate that Vivitrol is not the right drug for you. You are advised against using Vivitrol if:1

  • You are currently using or have used opioid within the last 7-10 days.
  • You are in opioid detox or still experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • You are allergic to naltrexone or any of Vivitrol’s ingredients.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, depending on your circumstances, your healthcare provider might decide with you that Vivitrol should still be administered.

Before taking Vivitrol, you should also discuss with your healthcare provider if:

  • You abuse any street drugs.
  • You take any medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
  • You have bleeding problems or hemophilia.
  • You have any problems with your kidneys.
  • You have any problems with your liver.
  • You have any other health conditions.
  • You are planning to become pregnant.

Addiction Treatment Facility Types

Since Vivitrol therapy is commonly initiated during the course of an initial rehabilitation stay, it will be helpful for you to review the types of rehab facilities that will be available to you as you choose to seek treatment.

Luxury rehab programs offer a wide range of luxurious, resort-like amenities in addition to providing residential addiction treatment.

Executive rehab programs offer residential addiction treatment with many of the same high-end amenities as luxury programs – only they tailor their resources and program structure for business professionals who want to stay involved at work during the course of rehab treatment.

Traditional rehab programs offer the same high-quality addiction treatment as luxury and executive programs – but at lower prices that may be more affordable for your budget.

Sources

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Medication Guide: Vivitrol.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Naltrexone.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction.
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). 5. Answers to Frequently Asked Medication Questions.

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