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Vivitrol is a medicine used to treat alcohol and Opioid addiction. It helps those who have already gotten clean prevent relapse and has shown to be effective in clinical trials. This article explains how it works, explores some alternatives, and lists side effects.

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What Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is a medicine for people who are trying to stay clean from alcohol and Opioids. It comes in the form of a shot that is administered once a month and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The generic name for Vivitrol is Naltrexone. Vivitrol is the injection form of the medication while Naltrexone is taken orally. Vivitrol is a trademark of Alkermes, a pharmaceutical company that, according to Bloomberg, “develops treatments for central nervous system disorders such as addiction, schizophrenia and depression, and diabetes.”

Who Can Take Vivitrol?

According to Alkermes, “patients who are able to abstain from alcohol in an outpatient setting prior to initiation of treatment” are eligible to take Vivitrol with a doctor’s prescription. Those who wish to stay clean from Opioid addiction, and who have already successfully detoxified from Opioids prior to treatment, may take this medication with a doctor’s prescription.

Anyone who does take Vivitrol should do so in combination with a wide variety of other treatment options and modalities that fully address the complexities of mental health and addiction (Studies have shown that recovering addicts stay sober longer when they combine Vivitrol with counseling.)

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Who Cannot Take Vivitrol?

Anyone who is currently drinking alcohol should not start a course of Vivitrol. In addition, those currently dependent on Opioids, and/or who have not successfully completed Opioid detoxification, cannot take the medication.

Those with acute hepatitis, liver failure, or who are hypersensitive and/or allergic to the ingredients contained within Vivitrol should not take medication. Children should not take the medication.

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What Are The Advantages?

Many recovering addicts struggle with relapses and relapse anxiety. Vivitrol is one powerful chemical mechanism to neutralize the pleasurable effects of alcohol and Opioids by interfering with the way they’re processed in the brain. In short, taking the medication will prevent an individual from getting drunk or high from alcohol or Opioids while they’re taking the medication.

Vivitrol carries less controversy and less risk than other, comparable medicines like Methadone and Buprenorphine – which can help individuals come off Opioids, but also activate the very same Opioid receptors in the brain as illicit drugs. The medication itself is not an Opioid or Opioid agonist, and therefore blocks Opioid receptors instead of activating them. That means the possibility for dependency or tolerance is practically nonexistent.

Studies have shown that Vivitrol helps prevent relapse, especially when compared to a control group of recovering addicts who were not treated with the medicine and who relapsed at a higher rate than those prescribed the medication.

What Are The Disadvantages?

Some individuals may attempt to take large amounts of Opioids in an attempt to override the neutralizing effects of Vivitrol. This could be fatal. Missing a dose of the medication or discontinuing treatment may make one more sensitive to lower doses of Opioids, potentially resulting in overdose.

The price of Vivitrol is relatively high compared to other drugs used to treat Opioid addiction, with Vivitrol roughly 2-3 times as expensive as Buprenorphine.

The medication also has several potentially serious side effects, including:

  • Intense pain at the injection site
  • Lumps and blisters
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • The development of suicidal thoughts and/or depression

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Vivitrol can help prevent relapses in individuals who have already detoxified from drugs and alcohol. If you’re curious about getting clean or staying clean, contact a treatment provider now to get answers to your rehab related questions.

No matter how you tackle your addiction, you don’t have to do it alone.