Vivitrol is an extended-release form of naltrexone, a prescription drug injected once a month in a small amount to block the effects of opioids and alcohol that produce a “high.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of Vivitrol for treating alcohol dependence in 2006 and opioid drug dependence in 2010.
Vivitrol attaches to the opioid receptors in your brain and completely blocks the pleasurable feelings of taking opioids. Its purpose is to prevent a relapse after you have tapered off Suboxone. You must be completely opioid free when you start Vivitrol, or you will suffer severe withdrawal. Also, you should not take any opioids, including medications that contain opioids, while you are on Vivitrol. You may risk a serious overdose if you do.
It is not known exactly how Vivitrol works to combat alcohol addiction, but it is thought that it blocks the receptors in the brain that cause the pleasurable feelings produced by alcohol. It reduces cravings and helps you abstain from drinking. If you slip up and have a drink, it can curb your desire to drink more.
Your physician at Elm Tree Clinic will discuss whether Vivitrol might help you after you have tapered off Suboxone, or as part of your treatment plan for alcoholism.
Typically we prescribe Vivitrol for about a year after you have tapered off Suboxone. The goal is to be addiction-free and medication-free within two years. The time period for taking Vivitrol varies individually with alcoholism patients.
We administer Vivitrol by injection once a month in our clinic.
Yes, a small number of people have a reaction at the skin site where Vivitrol is injected. A small number also have allergic reactions or tiredness, nausea, stomach ache, or headache. Your doctor will review the possible side effects with you, and you should tell your doctor about any changes you notice after the injection.
It is dangerous to take any opioids, including those in pain medications, while you are on Vivitrol. You may get a severe overdose reaction. Your doctor will review all of the medications and supplements you may be taking before prescribing Vivitrol.
The success rate looks good, but more long-term studies are needed.