Is Vivitrol Effective When Staying Sober?

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Vivitrol (generically known as naltrexone) is a prescription injectable medicine that was originally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to be used for the treatment of alcohol dependence. The FDA later approved Vivitrol for the use of treating opioid addiction. Depending on one’s needs, an individual may be prescribed Vivitrol as a component of his or her substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment plan. In order to begin Vivitrol treatment, an individual must be completely free and clean of all alcohol and opioids for at least seven days (in some cases a minimum of fourteen days is required). Vivitrol is administered by a medical professional once a month. 

Side Effects

Every individual is different and will have a somewhat distinct response to taking Vivitrol. It is important to note that, as is true with taking any medication, there are a variety of side effects that Vivitrol can cause. Some of the examples of side effects provided by Vivitrol, include the following:

  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Serious allergic reactions
    • Skin rash
    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Swelling of face, eyes, mouth, and/ or tongue
    • Feeling dizzy or faint
    • Chest pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Depressed mood
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cold symptoms
  • Toothache

Additional and more severe side effects include: risk of opioid overdose, severe reactions at the site of injection, sudden opioid withdrawal, liver damage, and/ or hepatitis. An individual that experiences lingering adverse side effects is encouraged to consult his or her healthcare provider. 

How It Works

Vivitrol is an extended-release opioid receptor antagonist. Vivitrol works by stopping endorphins from binding to opioid receptors in one’s brain, which thereby ends the desirable feelings associated with being intoxicated. Vivitrol is a pure opioid antagonist, and as such it does not allow other drugs to bind to opioid receptor cells in one’s brain. Hence, this medication can be effective in treating opioid addiction as it directly blocks opioid drugs from binding to opioid receptors in one’s brain, essentially rendering the opioid medication useless in one’s body. Although each person is different, for many individuals struggling with substance abuse the most effect means to overcome addiction is through long-term maintenance therapy. While medications such as Vivitrol can be exceptionally beneficial to one’s prolonged recovery, in most cases it is advantageous to simultaneously engage in some form of continued mental health counseling.  

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one.

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