What Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is a brand name for the medication Naltrexone, which belongs to a class of drugs known as Opioid receptor antagonists. Unlike Opioids or Opioid agonists like Methadone or Buprenorphine, Vivitrol does not have addictive properties. Instead, it blocks the effects of Opioids, making it impossible to experience the euphoria associated with Opioid use.

Administered as an extended-release intramuscular injection, Vivitrol offers the convenience of once-a-month dosing. Unlike other treatments which may require daily consumption, Vivitrol provides sustained therapeutic effects over a more extended period, reducing the daily burden on patients. This extended effect can help diminish the allure of substance use and facilitate sustained abstinence.

How Does Vivitrol Work?

Vivitrol works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that Opioids attach to. However, instead of activating these receptors, Vivitrol blocks them, effectively preventing the euphoric and sedative effects of Opioid drugs, such as Heroin, Morphine, and Codeine, as well as synthetic Opioids like Fentanyl. This deterrent effect can help individuals break the cycle of addiction by reducing cravings and making it less likely for them to return to Opioid use.

One notable aspect of Vivitrol is that it doesn’t produce a “high” or lead to physical dependence, making it a safe option for long-term use.

Who Should Consider Taking Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is specially designed for specific candidates. First and foremost, Vivitrol is designed for those who have been detoxified from Opioids. This is crucial as taking Vivitrol while Opioids are still in the system can lead to sudden Opioid withdrawal symptoms. Typically, patients should be Opioid-free for a minimum of 7-10 days before starting Vivitrol.

Additionally, those at a heightened risk of relapse, especially during the vulnerable early stages of recovery, might find Vivitrol particularly beneficial due to its ability to block the euphoric effects of Opioids. Furthermore, individuals who’ve faced relapses in past recovery attempts can consider Vivitrol as a reinforcement for sustained sobriety.

Other groups that might benefit from this treatment include those:

  • Seeking Non-Narcotic Treatment: Unlike some other treatments for Opioid dependence which contain Opioids themselves (like Methadone or Buprenorphine), Vivitrol is non-narcotic and does not lead to physical dependence.
  • Committing To Comprehensive Treatment: Vivitrol is most effective when used as part of a broader treatment program. This means individuals who are committed to therapy, counseling, and participation in supportive recovery programs are ideal candidates.

Side Effects Of Vivitrol

While some side-effects are more common and often mild, others can be severe and require immediate medical attention. Common side effects of Vivitrol include:

Nausea: Some patients may experience an upset stomach or feel like vomiting after taking the medication.
Tiredness: A general feeling of fatigue or drowsiness can be a side effect, especially shortly after the injection.
Headache: Some individuals might experience mild to moderate headaches.
Dizziness: This can range from a slight feeling of being unsteady to a more pronounced sensation of vertigo.
Vomiting: In some cases, nausea can progress to actual vomiting.
Decreased appetite: Some individuals may feel less inclined to eat, leading to potential weight loss.
Painful joints: Joint discomfort or pain can be experienced, especially in the initial stages of taking the medication.
Muscle cramps: Muscle tightness or spasms can occur in some individuals.

More serious side effects can include:

Allergic reaction: Some individuals might experience an allergic reaction affecting their lungs, leading to symptoms like difficulty in breathing, chest pain, or cough.
Severe injection site reactions: Although rare, some individuals might experience intense pain, swelling, or even tissue death at the site of the injection.
Liver damage: Although not common, Vivitrol can cause hepatotoxicity or liver damage in some individuals. Signs of this can include yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), dark urine, stomach pain, or elevated liver enzymes.
Depression and suicide: Some patients report feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts while on Vivitrol. It’s essential to monitor any mood changes and seek help immediately if these feelings emerge.

It’s important to note that while these side effects are possible, they do not occur in every individual. Any new or unusual symptoms should be reported to a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Seeking Treatment For Opioid Addiction

It’s important to recognize that Opioid addiction is a chronic medical condition that can be effectively managed with the right treatment. Seeking treatment is a courageous step towards regaining control of your life.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with Opioid addiction, please seek help today. Reach out to a treatment provider to explore your options and start your journey towards recovery.