What Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is a prescription medication used to treat individuals who have an opioid or alcohol use disorder. It is one of the few non-addictive substances that can effectively treat substance use disorders by blocking specific brain receptors commonly associated with alcohol and opioid use.

Vivitrol is considered an opioid antagonist, meaning it binds to receptors in the brain that would typically cause euphoria and sedation when substance use occurs. By binding with these receptors, the urge to use opioids and alcohol is reduced. Vivitrol is administered once a month via injection for individuals with opioid use disorders (OUDs) and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Vivitrol is the injection form of the medication known as naltrexone, which is taken orally. Vivitrol is unique because it is a medication given once a month, which can be a helpful approach for individuals in early recovery instead of taking naltrexone daily. Vivitrol and naltrexone are medications frequently utilized in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders, which are commonly combined with multiple treatment services like psychotherapies and peer-led support groups.

Who Can Take Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is prescribed to individuals who have already completed a detoxification program from opioid or alcohol use and have been diagnosed with an OUD or alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Individuals deemed appropriate for Vivitrol or naltrexone are usually identified as those interested in long-term recovery and currently engaged in treatment services. Anyone who does take Vivitrol should do so in combination with a wide variety of other treatment options that fully address both mental health and substance use disorders.

Vivitrol and naltrexone must be taken as prescribed and within the proper time frames directed by a medical professional.

Who Cannot Take Vivitrol?

Anyone actively using opioids or alcohol should not use Vivitrol or naltrexone unless directed by a medical professional. Using Vivitrol or naltrexone when substances are still in the body can result in acute withdrawal symptoms that may require medical attention.

Individuals currently experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms would not benefit from beginning Vivitrol or naltrexone until they have completed a medically monitored detoxication program.

Those with acute hepatitis, liver failure, or allergies to the ingredients contained within Vivitrol should not take this medication. Vivitrol has not been approved for anyone under the age of 18.

Advantages Of Vivitrol

Many of those in recovery struggle with relapses and relapse anxiety. Vivitrol is one powerful chemical mechanism to block the pleasurable effects of alcohol and opioids by interfering with how 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. Vivitrol itself is not an opioid but rather an opioid agonist that blocks opioid receptors instead of activating them. That means the possibility of developing a physical dependency or tolerance is practically nonexistent.

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

Disadvantages Of Vivitrol

Some individuals may attempt to take large amounts of opioids in an attempt to override the euphoric and sedation-blocking effects of Vivitrol. Unfortunately, these behaviors can lead to an overdose event, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. In addition, 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 OUD, with Vivitrol being roughly 2-3 times as expensive as buprenorphine. Insurance coverage has not been consistent, so it is best to consult with one’s insurance company to determine coverage options.

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

Finding Treatment

Vivitrol can help prevent relapses in individuals who have detoxed from opioids and alcohol. If you’re curious about getting help for a substance use condition, 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.