As rates of opioid addiction rise across the country, the medical world is searching for newer, better ways to combat the epidemic. Opioid addiction treatment often requires the use of medications, especially in early recovery, to help those struggling with the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that inevitably arise. While there are several medications currently used in medication-assisted treatment, there are efforts to find more effective treatment options. With the introduction of the injectable medication Vivitrol, researchers are finding improved outcomes in treatment that could change the way we treat opioid addiction now.

How Vivitrol Works

Vivitrol is made using a medication popularly used in current opioid addiction treatment plans. Consisting of naltrexone, Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks opioid molecules from being able to attach to receptors. Instead, Vivitrol attaches to these receptors, blocking the stimulating effects of opioids. The medication can block receptors for a month at a time and is non-addictive which allows patients to use it without developing a different dependency. Vivitrol also reduces cravings for the drug which allows a person to focus solely on their recovery while minimizing the risk for relapse.

Vivitrol is used following an initial detox phase and cannot be started until after 7 days since last opioid use. Used prior to this time, the medication can actually cause opioid withdrawal symptoms making it imperative for patients to use Vivitrol under the care of medical supervision. Within 30 minutes of being administered, the medication works rapidly, enhancing the recovery experience, especially when used in conjunction with traditional therapies in a rehab program.

The Pros and Cons of Vivitrol

Vivitrol is effective at minimizing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, allowing those in recovery to focus on developing healthy coping mechanisms to support a sober lifestyle. With the help of Vivitrol, many find improved rates of success in achieving sobriety and maintaining it. While the medication is incredibly promising in treatment of opioid addiction, there are numerous pros and cons to consider before starting use.

The Pros

  • Because Vivitrol blocks receptors, it blocks the effects of opioids, lessening a person’s desire to use them
  • Vivitrol prevents cravings and reduces temptation to use again
  • Vivitrol can prevent withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced with other medications
  • It is long-lasting with a single injection lasting for one month
  • Vivitrol does not require as much maintenance as other medications because it is administered once a month
  • Vivitrol is also an effective treatment option for those struggling with alcoholism

The Cons

  • Vivitrol is intended only for those who have already gone through withdrawal from both opioids and alcohol
  • Vivitrol can produce side effects such as:
    • Nausea
    • Depression
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia
    • Fatigue
  • Missing a dose of Vivitrol can put a person at risk for relapse
  • Some experience reactions at the injection site
  • Attempting to use opioids in large doses to overcome the blocking effects of Vivitrol may lead to overdose

The Effectiveness of Vivitrol

The most difficult part of starting Vivitrol for many is the fact that the medication requires a person to have completed the withdrawal process before starting it. Once the medication has been administered, however, it is incredibly effective at helping keeping temptation and cravings at bay. In studies comparing Vivitrol to other medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction, Vivitrol was found to be incredibly effective with patients experiencing much lower rates of relapse or redeveloped dependence. Additionally, those who used Vivitrol tended to stay in treatment longer, resulting in improved recovery outcomes.

Treating the Opioid Epidemic

While Vivitrol is an incredibly effective maintenance medication, there are numerous treatment options available for those in recovery. Medication-assisted treatment is often a vital component of opioid addiction treatment and it greatly improves the early recovery experience.

Vivitrol, like other medications, should not be used as a standalone treatment method. While it is effective in helping manage symptoms throughout the recovery process, it does not provide individuals with the tools to support sobriety long-term. Used in conjunction with traditional treatment methods and therapies, Vivitrol can be an effective tool in successful recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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