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Vivitrol (generically known as naltrexone) is a medication that was originally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to be used for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Later, in 2010, the FDA also approved Vivitrol for the use of treating opioid addiction. Vivitrol is an extended-release opioid receptor antagonist. In order to begin Vivitrol treatment, an individual must be completely free and clean of all opioids for at least seven days (in some cases a minimum of fourteen days is required). A healthcare provider administers Vivitrol via injection, about one time a month. When used to treat alcohol dependence, Vivitrol works by stopping endorphins from binding to opioid receptors in one’s brain, which thereby ends the desirable feelings associated with being drunk. Vivitrol is a pure opioid antagonist, and as such is does not allow other drugs to bind to opioid receptor cells in one’s brain. Hence, this medication can be effective in treating opioid addiction as it directly blocks opioid drugs from binding to opioid receptors in one’s brain, essentially rendering the opioid medication useless in one’s body. 

Is Vivitrol Addictive?

It is highly unlikely an individual will become addicted to Vivitrol, as the way the medication works in one’s system does not induce any kind of euphoric feelings, which renders it an undesirable substance upon which to become dependent. However, it is possible for an individual to abuse Vivitrol. Reports indicate that the most common method of Vivitrol abuse occurs when an individual continues using opioids while also undergoing Vivitrol treatments. Individuals that abuse Vivitrol in this manner exponentially increase the risk of overdose. 

Side Effects

Every individual is different and will have a somewhat distinct response to taking Vivitrol. It is important to note that, as is true with taking any medication, there are a variety of side effects that Vivitrol can cause. Examples of side effects, as provided by Vivitrol.com, could include any combination but are not limited to the following:

  • Pneumonia
  • Depressed mood
  • Serious allergic reactions:
    • Skin rash
    • Trouble breathing or wheezing
    • Swelling of face, eyes, mouth, and/ or tongue
    • Feeling dizzy or faint
    • Chest pain
  • Nausea 
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Cold symptoms
  • Toothache

Additional and more severe side effects include: risk of opioid overdose, severe reactions at the side of injection, sudden opioid withdrawal, liver damage, and/ or hepatitis. An individual that experiences lingering adverse side effects is encouraged to consult his or her healthcare provider. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.