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Published On: January 27, 2022|Categories: Education Center|

Getting over an addiction isn’t a question of willpower, despite arguments to the contrary. While there is surely some choice involved in overcoming a substance use disorder, there are also neurological mechanisms that require professional intervention rather than just sheer determination.

Understanding the way drugs and alcohol affect the brain has led to new studies and new understanding that has opened new avenues of treatment. Vivitrol is one of many medication-assisted treatment options that can help you find sustainable recovery.

If you’ve ever thought, “how does Vivitrol work?” you’re in the right place. Here we’ll answer your questions about this substance, how it affects the body and what it means for life-long sobriety.

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is the brand name for the drug naltrexone. The substance naltrexone binds to opioid receptors in the brain, effectively blocking the effects of other opioid agents and alcohol. The aim of this treatment is to block the euphoric and pleasurable effects of opioids or alcohol, should they be consumed.

While there are other forms of naltrexone that are released into the body quickly, Vivitrol’s hallmark is a slow release. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, Vivitrol should be given in doses of 380 milligrams once per month via a gluteal injection.

There are numerous potential side effects of Vivitrol including: 

  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Injection site reactions;
  • Cramps;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Decreased appetite.

Just to name a few.

While some individuals may need Vivitrol shots for longer than others, the intention of the treatment is that eventually, you will be able to stop injections so you can live completely substance-free. Generally, this takes around a year.

How Does Vivitrol Work for Alcohol and Drug Addiction?

It’s easy to get caught up in terminology when talking about Vivitrol for addiction recovery, so here’s what you need to know. 

When a person consumes drugs or alcohol frequently, a tolerance will build. This tolerance means that more and more of the substance is required to produce the same effects. It seems like a no-brainer to just stop using the substances here, right?

Sadly, stopping isn’t feasible for many people who have developed a tolerance due to the ways drugs and alcohol have changed the brain in the meantime. Substances acting on the brain produce pleasurable and pain-alleviating effects, tricking the brain into craving more and ignoring the consequences. 

Substance use becomes a battle against yourself, and when it spirals into addiction, the fight is unfair. Vivitrol can even out the playing field.

Vivitrol, or naltrexone in any form, blocks the brain from feeling the pleasurable effects of drugs and alcohol. While it will take time, this reverses the brain’s expectation of pleasure when drugs or alcohol is consumed. 

While you should definitely steer clear of other substances when you’re getting Vivitrol shots, knowing a high won’t happen can prevent a relapse. Vivitrol is not meant to be used if you are in the midst of heavy drug or alcohol use, but rather after detox is completed. 

Is Vivitrol Enough to Stop an Addiction?

Vivitrol should never be considered a complete treatment plan. In fact, Vivitrol is not considered effective unless combined with another recovery program. Inpatient treatment, a stay in a sober living home, counseling or therapy is recommended for the entire duration of Vivitrol treatment.

Vivitrol can help these psychotherapeutic treatments to be effective, though. The extended release of Vivitrol makes it so you can focus on learning skills to get sober and stay sober. It will eliminate the distraction of cravings so you can beat triggers when you’re completely free of substances.

Who Can Benefit from Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is effective for both men and women who are over the age of 18 (Vivitrol has not been studied in children). Vivitrol is especially helpful for people who have trouble managing cravings during the first weeks and months of recovery.

Preventing relapse is the main purpose of naltrexone, so if you think medication-assisted treatment sounds like it would benefit your recovery, it’s time to talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Where Do I Start Vivitrol?

If you don’t have a medical doctor or addiction specialist who can help you access Vivitrol treatment, it’s time to get connected. Vivitrol is only administered by health care professionals, so you’ll want to reach out to get access to treatment that can change your life.

At Rehab After Work, you can start medication-assisted treatment in a convenient and flexible environment. You’ll also find a variety of rehab programs and resources to complete your treatment regimen. Learn more about Rehab After Work and get connected today.

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