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What Is Vivitrol?

Naltrexone, sold under the brand names ReVia and Vivitrol, among others, is a medication principally used to manage alcohol or opioid use disorder; by lessening cravings and feelings of euphoria correlated with substance use disorder.

It can be used to help people maintain abstaining while recovering from an opioid or alcohol dependence.  Other formulations of naltrexone are prepared in oral tablet form, but Vivitrol is administered as an intramuscular solution once per month.

Naltrexone is not an opioid, is not addictive, and does not create withdrawal symptoms with the stop of use.  Naltrexone hinders the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.  Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors and reduces and contains opioid cravings.  There is no abuse and recreation potential with naltrexone.  [1]

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Before Starting Vivitrol

Clients should speak to their practitioner before starting treatment with naltrexone about the following situations:

  • Current liver problems, use illegal drugs, have hemophilia or other bleeding problems, have kidney problems, or have any other medical conditions
  • You are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding
  • All medications, prescriptions and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplement
  • Practitioners need to know if clients are currently taking any opioid-containing medicines for pain, cough, colds, or diarrhea
  • Currently being treated for an OUD (opioid use disorder) or AUD (alcohol use disorder)
  • Are allergic to naltrexone or any of the ingredients or the liquid used to mix the extended-release naltrexone
 When the use of drugs and alcohol ends, the addiction withdrawals begin. They will have cravings that endure even with the knowledge of the adverse effects. Medical detox is critical in ensuring the withdrawal is manageable and reaches completion as well as that it does not become dangerous and life-threatening. Complete the detox first before taking Vivitrol.
When the use of drugs and alcohol ends, the addiction withdrawals begin. They will have cravings that endure even with the knowledge of the adverse effects. Medical detox is critical in ensuring the withdrawal is manageable and reaches completion as well as that it does not become dangerous and life-threatening. Complete the detox first before taking Vivitrol.

Common And Serious Side Effects Of Vivitrol

Typical Side Effects Of Naltrexone May Include:

  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Painful Joints
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Cold Symptoms
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Toothache

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Serious Side Effects Of Naltrexone

Risk of opioid overdose. Accidental overdose can happen in two ways.

  • Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, such as heroin or opioid pain medications.  Individuals who try to overcome this blocking effect by taking large amounts of opioids may undergo serious injury, coma, or death.
  • After taking a dose of naltrexone, the blocking effect slowly fades and completely goes away over time.  Individuals receiving naltrexone for an OUD can become more sensitive to the effects of opioids at the dose used before or even lower amounts.  Using opioids while on naltrexone can lead to overdose and death.

Individuals taking Vivitrol should tell family and the people they are closest to about the increased sensitivity to opioids and the risk of overdose.

Reminders For Taking Vivitrol

It is crucial for people in treatment for an addiction to opioids to first completely detox from these substances and then sustain abstinence for 7-10 days before starting Vivitrol;  otherwise, this prescription medication can evoke withdrawal symptoms.

All forms of naltrexone work by holding the euphoria and sedation that central nervous system depressants, specifically alcohol and opioids, can cause.  The medication binds to those receptor sites instead of the intoxicating substances and stays there long.  When a person taking any form of naltrexone as prescribed relapses, the drug will not bind to the opioid receptor sites, so there will be no high link with using the substance after detoxing.

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Vivitrol for Alcohol Addiction

Vivitrol has helped augment recovery from addiction to alcohol.  For instance, in a six-month double-blind study, people who used Vivitrol with counseling to treat an alcohol use disorder underwent a 25% greater reduction in the number of heavy drinking days after they graduated from treatment.

Overall, people with alcohol use disorder managed with both Vivitrol and rehabilitation counseling spent more time abstinent from alcohol and had lower relapse rates.

Naltrexone’s theorized mechanism of action is that intoxicating substances like alcohol discharge endorphins, making an individual feel good.  In people being treated for alcohol use disorders, Vivitrol, an opioid receptor antagonist, prevents the endorphins from binding to their receptors, thereby ending the great feeling of being drunk.

There may be some other manifestations of intoxication, but the pleasure of drinking will be significantly depreciated.  In addition, the drive to drink should gradually disappear among people who relapse into old ways of alcohol use since it no longer offers perceived benefits.

Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction

The FDA approved Vivitrol in 2010 to support people being treated for opioid addictions.  While it was known that Vivitrol could help people struggling with alcohol use disorder, the drug was established to help prevent opioid relapse after a study showed that people who took the medication during rehabilitation stayed in the program longer and were more inclined to remain abstinent and avoid relapse.

 Those who used Vivitrol adjacent to rehabilitation and continuing therapy were 17 times less prone to relapse than those who did not use Vivitrol.
Those who used Vivitrol adjacent to rehabilitation and continuing therapy were 17 times less prone to relapse than those who did not use Vivitrol.

Although it supports prevent relapse, it is necessary to complete a detox program and have no opioids left in the body or withdrawal symptoms before beginning Vivitrol.  This is because naltrexone will remove opioids from opioid receptors. [2]

If a person is undergoing medically assisted detox, such as buprenorphine, Vivitrol will stop the medication from working and make withdrawal symptoms worse.  It is a pure opiate antagonist, meaning it does not allow other drugs to bind to opioid receptor cells.

While Vivitrol prevents endorphins from binding opioid receptors in people who drink alcohol, it also instantly blocks opioid drugs from binding to opioid receptors in the brain.  This can make it a much more powerful treatment for opioid addiction, as it helps relapse.  For instance, people who use Vivitrol in combination with counseling to treat their opioid addiction have 90% percent opioid-free weeks compared to 35% who took a placebo.

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Because many addictions co-occur with another disorder, you must find a rehab specializing in treating co-occurring conditions.  The inpatient drug rehab understands the importance of taking the time to discover if there is another disorder at hand that may be playing into a substance use disorder before treating only the substance abuse. 

In addition, with a thorough investigation of an individual’s mental health condition before treatment, the individual will indeed receive the most effective and comprehensive treatment for their addiction and mental health disorder.  This only strengthens their chances of maintaining their sobriety upon leaving the inpatient drug rehab facility.

Above all, recovering from a substance use disorder does not need to be overwhelming or burdensome. 

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With supervision from an inpatient drug rehab, like We Level Up New Jersey, you will be on the way to lifelong sobriety in no time.  As such, don’t hold advancing in your sobriety.  Instead, reach out today, and a dedicated and compassionate admissions specialist will answer any questions and handle any concerns you may have about going to an inpatient drug rehab.

If you depend on Vivitrol to continue feeding your addiction or alcoholism, exploring treatment program options would be highly advisable.  Call us today here at We Level Up New Jersey to get into proper treatment.

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[1] Naltrexone – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

[2] Vivitrol Effects – We Level Up – Vivitrol Treatment – We Level Up FL