Treatment with Vivitrol

Vivitrol is brand name formulation for the extended-release injectable version of naltrexone. It is primarily indicated to help individuals maintain abstinence while recovering from an opioid or alcohol use disorder. Other preparations of naltrexone are available in oral tablet form, but Vivitrol is administered as an intramuscular injection once a month. It is important that individuals in treatment for an addiction to opioids completely detox from them and maintain a period of abstinence for at least seven to ten days before starting Vivitrol; otherwise, this prescription medication can provoke withdrawal symptoms.

All forms of naltrexone work by blocking the sedation and euphoria that central nervous system depressants, specifically opioids and alcohol, can produce. The medication binds to the brain’s receptor sites blocking the intoxicating substances and remains there for a long period of time. When an individual is taking naltrexone as it is prescribed relapses, the substance will not bind to the opioid receptor sites, and he or she will not experience the”high” associated with using the substance.

Side effects of Vivitrol treatment include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Exhaustion or sleep problems
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Headache

In some instances, naltrexone injections can cause reactions at the injection site, liver toxicity, and eosinophilic pneumonia. However, the benefits typically outweigh the risks for many people working to get their addiction to alcohol or opioids under control due to the fact it helps to reduce cravings after the body has detoxed and blocks the euphoric effects. Unlike the opioid agonist medications used to treat opioid addiction, like buprenorphine or methadone, naltrexone does not cause sedation or euphoria, so there is no intoxication or risk of abuse.

Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction

Vivitrol was first approved to help people being treated for opioid addictions by the FDA in 2010 . While it was understood that Vivitrol treatment could assist people struggling with an alcohol use disorder, the medication was eventually approved to help prevent opioid relapse after a study demonstrated that individuals who took the medication during drug treatment engaged in the program for a longer period of time and were more likely to avoid relapse and remain abstinent.

While it is useful in preventing relapse, it is critical to successfully complete a detox program, have no opioids remaining in your system, and not experiencing any withdrawal symptoms before starting treatment with Vivitrol. This is due to the fact that naltrexone will immediately replace the opioids on the opioid receptors, meaning if a person is undergoing medically-assisted detox, such as by using buprenorphine, Vivitrol will stop the medicine from working and bring on immediate withdrawal symptoms. It is classified as an opiate antagonist and will not allow other substances to bind to opioid receptors.

Vivitrol for Alcohol Addiction

Vivitrol was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 to prevent relapse for people recovering from an alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone works by minimizing cravings for alcohol via a different mechanism than other alcohol relapse prevention medicines such as disulfiram (Antabuse), which dissuades drinking by making the person sick if they consume alcohol.

Vivitrol has been effective in strengthening recovery from addiction to alcohol. In a six month double-blind study, individuals who combined Vivitrol with therapy to treat an alcohol use disorder experienced a 25 percent decrease in the number of heavy drinking days post-graduation from treatment. Overall, people whose alcohol use disorder was treated with a combination of Vivitrol and counseling experienced greater periods of abstinent from alcohol and had lower relapse rates.

It’s theorized that Naltrexone is effective because intoxicating substances like alcohol release endorphins, making the individual feel good. This reinforces the need and desire to drink more in order to feel good. For individuals in treatment for alcoholism, Vivitrol blocks the endorphins from binding to the receptors, thereby euphoric feeling being drunk never materializes. And while there may be other indicators of intoxication, the pleasure associated with drinking will be greatly diminished. For individuals who relapse into old patterns of alcohol abuse, the motivation to drink may steadily decrease since it no longer offers the associated benefits.

Find Out About Vivitrol Treatment Today

Clearpoint applies professionalism and strict adherence to clinical safety and appropriateness when prescribing Vivitrol or other medications as part of a medication assisted treatment program for opioid addiction or alcoholism. If you or someone you love is suffering from a cycle of opioid or alcohol relapse and withdrawal, find out if Vivitrol treatment is right for you.

To schedule a comprehensive alcohol or drug evaluation, call us today at 1-203-293-1723.