Vivitrol is an extended-release prescription medication used to manage dependence on alcohol and opioids.  Its main ingredient is Naltrexone. The drug is injected into the muscle and its effects start to be felt in 30 minutes and peak in two hours. The drug remains in the blood for about a month.

1. How It Works

Vivitrol works by blocking receptors from attaching to opioid molecules and therefore one does not feel high when they take opioids. This helps to discourage the continued misuse of opioids and relapse.

Normally, when one uses drugs such as opioids, the active chemicals attach themselves to the brain receptors and bring about high feelings.  When you use Vivitrol, it attaches itself to the brain receptors without causing you to feel high. Then it blocks the receptors in the brain such that opioid molecules cannot attach to them.  That is why, when one is on Vivitrol, they cannot get high when they use drugs.

The effectiveness of a single injection of Vivitrol can last a whole month.

2. It Has Side Effects

Vivitrol is not without side effects. Some of the physical side effects include headaches, nausea, joints, and muscle aches. Other serious side effects include hepatitis and liver damage.

Also, in case the medication is injected in the subcutaneous (under the skin) instead of in intramuscular, it can cause infection at the site of injection leading to tissue death.

Mental side effects are nervousness, anxiety, insomnia (sleep problems), irritability, and suicidal thoughts.

3. Can Be Abused

While Vivitrol does not cause dependency, it can be abused. The drug is an opioid receptor antagonist and its use does not cause one to feel high, so it is not likely to cause addiction.

However, it can be abused. For instance, if someone continues to use opioids when on Vivitrol, one may be required to take a higher dosage of opioids leading to an overdose.

Also, after one completes Vivitrol treatment, one tends to be more sensitive to opioids.  It is expected that after treatment, one should not use alcohol or opioids in the future. However, in the case of a relapse, a small dose can cause an overdose.

The drug can also be abused if doctors’ advice is not followed when starting treatment. The rule is that one should not have used opioids or alcohol for about 7 to 14 days before they start using the drug. Failure to observe this rule can cause severe withdrawal at which point a person can say that Vivitrol is scary.

4. It should be Part of a Treatment Program

For its use to be effective, Vivitrol should not be used alone. It should be used as part of a treatment program for those who want to quit opioids and alcohol abuse. One should also take part in therapy sessions and self-help programs.

5. The Injection Is Irreversible

Once a person is injected with Vivitrol, it cannot be reversed and it will remain in the body for at least four weeks. It may be a tricky situation if you are in pain and you need to take opioid medication. Remember that the medication may not work given that Vivitrol suppresses opioid receptors so you may need to look for another alternative to deal with the pain.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only. Consult a doctor for more information. See our disclosure here.