What You Didn’t Know: Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction


Opioid Epidemic

The opioid crisis is real; as many people are using painkillers to find relief, relaxation, and euphoria, many are finding it difficult to stop this addiction because of the painful withdrawals experienced. According to Medline Plus, withdrawal symptoms may include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, abdominal cramping, sweating, and more. One medication was approved to treat opioid addiction in 2010: Vivitrol.

Vivitrol is a monthly injection of extended-release naltrexone that blocks opioids altogether – it is not an opioid medication, and it is an antagonist. This medication works to attach to opioid receptors while not allowing the release of dopamine that typically gives individuals a feeling of relaxation and pleasure. The medication blocks this release for up to 28 days, so a person only must get a shot of it each month by their doctor.

Competitors to this medication are buprenorphine and naloxone (sold as Suboxone); buprenorphine is an opioid medication mixed with agonist-antagonist qualities and naloxone is an opioid antagonist. A recent study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that a monthly shot of Vivitrol is just as effective as the daily pill version of buprenorphine or naloxone. Participants who took any of those drugs found they remained free from relapse for 6 months following treatment. However, several patients were unable to start Vivitrol immediately because they had to wean themselves off opioids for a few days to avoid withdrawal effects after starting Vivitrol.

Because Vivitrol works against producing an overload of dopamine when the opioid receptors bind, it is very dangerous for a person to consume opioids while on Vivitrol. The consequences could be harmful – even fatal. According to PBS, Vivitrol is a popular option because it is only needed to be taken once a month, and it doesn’t contain opioids, which won’t cause any added worry for addiction. The shot can be expensive, however – at about $1,000 a shot, and more research is being conducted to see if it outshines the other two medications.

Always maintain close contact with your doctor when taking prescribed medication, and seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms of concern. Stay knowledgeable on the correct dosage amount and only take your medication as prescribed to avoid any risk of addiction, abuse, or misuse.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery treatment center. If you are struggling with substance abuse, call us today at 888-743-0490 for a consultation. Our licensed, experienced health care team will work with you to restore your mind, body, and spirit.