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Vivitrol For Medication-Assisted Treatment

Vivitrol is a common brand name for Naltrexone, a popular medication used for both Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).



The use of this treatment has been demonstrated to be safe and effective by the FDA. However, the effectiveness of Vivitrol is dependent on combination with therapy and psychosocial support. Read below to learn how Vivitrol can help after detoxification from alcohol and opioids.

Click here to learn more about medication-assisted treatment at Sandstone Care.

Vivitrol for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Vivitrol has been shown to help people addicted to alcohol by preventing them from drinking in excess. While some medications used for AUD make users sick if they drink alcohol, Vivitrol instead seems to block the parts of the brain that's getting pleasure from drinking.

Vivitrol has been used for some time to reduce cravings, but the alcohol dependent individuals tend to miss daily dosages when it is taken orally. This can end up in relapse.

Taking Vivitrol via injection causes a month long release of the drug which will partially block the pleasure the patient can experience from drinking alcohol.

Vivitrol is only an enhancement to counseling and therapeutic processes. According to Dr. Montague, any type of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is used in rehabilitation to give the other disciplines the time to work. Addiction is a complicated disease that involves the biological, psychological, social, and socioeconomic aspects of life. There are a lot of barriers to why someone might not be able to get sober just beyond the limbic system, and a lot of pieces that must come together for someone to gain recovery.

Medications like Vivitrol are used to stabilize the limbic system while clients in therapy work on coping skills, work through trauma, and get you hooked up with resources in the community.

"Naltrexone (Vivitrol) is an opiate receptor blocker, so we think that it actually inhibits the pleasure that you get from drinking. So this medication doesn't make you ill, it doesn't make you vomit if you drink. But if you do end up drinking, it would decrease the urges to drink more."

- Dr. Jennifer Montague, Senior Medical Director at Sandstone Care

Vivitrol for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

Vivitrol is the first medication approved for the treatment of opioid dependence that isn't addictive, isn't a narcotic, and can be administered in extended release doses.

According to the FDA, patients "must not have any opioids in their system when they start taking Vivitrol; otherwise, they may experience withdrawal symptoms from the opioids. Also, patients may be more sensitive to opioids while taking Vivitrol at the time their next scheduled dose is due. If they miss a dose or after treatment with Vivitrol has ended, patients can accidentally overdose if they restart opioid use."

One study on Vivitrol shows it’s an effective option for opioid addiction recovery treatment. The study was conducted over 24 weeks and concluded that 36% of those who took Vivitrol stayed opioid-free, while only 23% of those who did not take Vivitrol (took a placebo) stayed opioid-free.

"The advantage of a monthly shot like Vivitrol is that if heroin or fentanyl comes along, it can't get into the receptor because it's being blocked for a whole 28 days."

- Dr. Jennifer Montague, Senior Medical Director at Sandstone Care

How to Know if Vivitrol is Right For You

Vivitrol is usually prescribed after someone has completed a detox program and no longer has alcohol or opiates in their system.

Using Vivitrol for opioid addiction treatment comes with some side effects, just like there are with most other medications. Most of the side effects of Vivitrol are mild when it’s used as prescribed under the supervision of a physician. Some of these effects include:

  • Swelling or pain at the area of injection
  • Cold or flu
  • Insomnia
  • Toothaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches

The medical staff at Sandstone Care creates a specific plan of action for each client. Call our admissions department today to start the conversation.

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