Opioid and alcohol dependence are chronic diseases that are psychologically and physically devastating. Counseling helps patients work through the psychological aspects of dependence, while medication treats physical changes in the brain. Vivitrol is an extended-release, injectable form of naltrexone. It is a non-addictive once-monthly injectable medication and is used in conjunction with counseling.
How Does it Work?
Vivitrol is a non-addictive opiate antagonist that has been shown to help individuals remain drug-free during their initial recovery period. It has been used to treat both opioid and alcohol dependence. If a Hickory House Recovery client is determined to be medically appropriate for Vivitrol, they can be given a monthly injection prior to discharge from the program.
What are the benefits of Vivitrol?
- Vivitrol has been shown to make opiates or alcohol much less desirable, and this helps avoid a relapse.
- Once monthly injections are easier to remember than daily pills.
- Blood levels of persons taking Vivitrol may remain more stable than those taking oral naltrexone.
- No risk of developing a secondary addiction to Vivitrol.
Before Taking Vivitrol – What You Need to Know
You can’t take Vivitrol until you’ve been clean from opioid drugs and medications for 7 to 10 days.
Fighting cravings during the first week may be the most difficult part of recovery. Consider discussing with your healthcare provider other options to help get you through this 7- to 10-day period before starting Vivitrol.
What are some drawbacks of Vivitrol?
- Vivitrol may not be safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Vivitrol can cause liver damage if it’s taken in more than the recommended dosage.
- Side effects in some patients include intense pain, irritation, swelling, lumps, redness or even tissue death at the injection site.
- Skipping a shot could jeopardize your recovery, so you have to be willing to see a doctor or nurse monthly for a shot.
- Vivitrol can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness loss of appetite, joint pain, depressed mood, pneumonia and allergic reactions.
- Vivitrol is typically more expensive than oral forms of the medication.
- It is still possible to overdose while on Vivitrol. Because users don’t experience the effects of the drugs they take for pleasure, they may take more of the drug in an attempt to feel the effects. This places the user at risk of severe respiratory depression and death.