In terms of drug use, addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease manifested by repeated use of harmful substances despite negative consequences. Several medications have been developed for those that have become dependent on opioids or alcohol. MAT or medication-assisted treatment is used as a tool for people with an addiction to opioids or alcohol. Vivitrol is one of the medications that has been approved by the FDA as medication-assisted treatment.
What is Vivitrol? How Does it Help Opioid Addicts and Alcoholics?
Vivitrol or Naltrexone extended-release is an opioid antagonist used to block the effects of opioid medication or alcohol. Vivitrol works by binding to the opioid receptors or pleasure centers in the brain. It is used to prevent relapse in those that had become dependent on opioids or alcohol and then have detoxed off of them. Vivitrol is not a controlled substance and does not cause any euphoria.
How Effective is Vivitrol When Used as Prescribed?
Vivitrol can either be taken daily or given as a once-monthly injection into the muscle. Those that decide Vivitrol is the right treatment for them must be completely detoxed off of opioids or alcohol before starting treatment. Taking the medication while opioids are still active in the system can cause an individual to experience debilitating precipitated withdrawal symptoms. Vivitrol also must be used in combination with therapy and counseling for treatment to be effective. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration talks about Naltrexone for opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorder:
Intramuscular extended-release Naltrexone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat both opioid use disorder (OUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option. Naltrexone can be prescribed and administered by any practitioner licensed to prescribe medications and is available in a pill form for Alcohol Use disorder or as an extended-release intramuscular injectable for either Alcohol and Opioid Use disorder. A Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) is required for the long-acting injectable formulation to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks. The pill form can be taken daily for AUD, but the extended-release injectable formulation is approved for the treatment of OUD. The pill form is taken daily and the extended-release injectable is administered every four weeks, or once a month, by a practitioner. (SAMSHA)
Are There Side Effects to the Vivitrol Injection?
We’ve already mentioned the possibility of experiencing precipitated withdrawal symptoms or minor withdrawal symptoms if a Vivitrol shot is started while any opioids or traces of opioids are still left in the system. An individual can even experience some serious side-effects that can include:
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Blurred vision
A Vivitrol shot can also have some life-threatening side-effects associated with it. It is important to know that Vivitrol decreases a person’s tolerance for opioids. If an individual stops treatment with Vivitrol and then relapses, they could experience a fatal overdose if they consume too much.
Vivitrol Has Saved Lives When Used Correctly
Regardless of whether someone is being treated with Vivitrol or not, fatal overdoses are common when a person has completely detoxed off of opioids and then experiences a relapse. The addict doesn’t even think about their tolerance being decreased, and they go back to using the same amount of the drug they used before they detoxed. Oftentimes it is way too much drug, and they experience an overdose. Some individuals can take Vivitrol without experiencing any or only mild side effects. Some, however, may experience more unpleasant side effects from the medication. Here is a list of the possible effects of Vivitrol:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle and joint pain
- Itching, bruising, swelling, or pain at the injection site
Also, Vivitrol is not good for use in anyone with liver disease or hepatitis as it can cause liver damage. One last thing to note about being treated with a Vivitrol shot. It is extremely dangerous to take opioids while being treated with Vivitrol. Since Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids, individuals have tried to consume large amounts of the drug to break this block and have experienced heart and respiratory failure. Vivitrol is not effective at blocking the effects of the cardiovascular and respiratory effects that opioids can cause especially when they are consumed in large doses.
Our Treatment Programs for Opioid Abuse and Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today and our opioid addiction specialists will go over the personalized treatment programs best suited for your situation. Our goal is to safely get you off fentanyl or any other addictive opiates so you or a loved one can become productive members of society once again!