Vivitrol Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Vivitrol Treatment for Opiate Addiction

The best way to recover from addiction involves a combination of medication and counseling, research says. While medication alone is not typically effective for long-term recovery, it can help individuals manage drug cravings and commit to getting well in a drug rehab program.

Where to Find Vivitrol Treatment  

Vivitrol was approved to treat alcohol dependence in 2006, and gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for opiate addiction in 2010.

“This drug approval represents a significant advancement in addiction treatment,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Since receiving FDA approval, word is spreading about the benefits of Vivitrol to treat addictions to heroin, prescription drugs and other opiates. As demand grows, some of the nation’s most respected addiction treatment centers are making Vivitrol available to patients.

Sober Living by the Sea, a renowned network of addiction treatment centers in California, offers Vivitrol treatment at all of its drug rehab facilities. Sober Living by the Sea is a member of CRC Health Group, which was one of the first major substance abuse treatment providers to offer Vivitrol treatment nationwide.

“The FDA’s just approved monthly drug treatment with Vivitrol could be a game changer,” said CRC Health’s Recovery Division President Jerry Rhodes.

How Vivitrol Treatment Works

 Manufactured by Alkermes Inc., Vivitrol is a medication that can make it easier to quit drinking or abusing opiate drugs. Doctors typically prescribe Vivitrol to individuals who have completed opiate detox, and are no longer drinking or using opiates. Patients receiving Vivitrol treatment get a shot once a month, which is administered by a physician.

Vivitrol works by filling the opioid receptors in the brain, which blocks the euphoric effects of opiates and alcohol and reduces drug cravings. Naltrexone, the active ingredient in Vivitrol, comes in the form of tiny capsules that break down slowly, releasing the drug into the system over several weeks.

The Benefits of Vivitrol Treatment

What makes Vivitrol unique as compared to other medications for addiction, such as methadone and Suboxone?

  • Vivitrol is non-addictive.
  • Vivitrol has no mood- or mind-altering effects.
  • Vivitrol typically begins managing drug cravings within two days.
  • Each injection of Vivitrol lasts for one month, increasing the chances of compliance with treatment. 
  • Vivitrol is generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects.
  • Studies show that Vivitrol is effective in preventing relapse and reducing drug cravings.
  • Individuals can use Vivitrol long-term, if needed.

What You Need to Know Before Using Vivitrol

As with other medications, there are certain risks involved with Vivitrol treatment. The side effects of Vivitrol may include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Painful joints
  • Decreased appetite

Other concerns include reactions at the injection site, liver damage, allergic reactions, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts.

The FDA issued the following guidance about Vivitrol use:

  • Vivitrol is not intended to help people quit drinking or opiate abuse. Individuals must not have any opioids in their system when they start taking Vivitrol, or they may experience opiate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Individuals 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 resume opioid use.
  • Vivitrol should not be taken by individuals with acute hepatitis, liver failure, or women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
  • Naltrexone can cause liver damage or hepatitis if taken in higher than recommended doses.

As with any medication for addiction, Vivitrol is not a cure. It is a tool which, combined with other tools like inpatient drug rehab, counseling and AA/NA meetings, can improve your chances of a successful recovery. To learn more, contact the addiction treatment specialists at Sober Living by the Sea or CRC Health.