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Facts About Vivitrol/ Naltrexone Treatment

Written by: Editorial Staff.

There are multiple medications currently on the market that have shown to assist in the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. These drugs help to lessen cravings but there is currently no medication capable of completely eradicating the mental obsession and cravings of drug or alcohol addiction.

Vivitrol is a time release version of the prescription medication Revia (Naltrexone) that is designed for individuals suffering from alcoholism or narcotic dependency. Vivitrol has been proven effective in alcoholism treatment as it reduces the cravings associated with alcohol dependency. Vivitrol blocks opiate receptors in the brain resulting in the inability to get high when taking certain narcotics, deterring continued narcotic abuse.

How Does Vivitrol Work?

Vivitrol’s main function is as an opioid receptor antagonist. The effect Vivitrol has on alcohol cravings is currently a topic of debate. Some scientists believe cavings are reduced due to naltrexone’s effects on dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain. Vivitrol and Naltrexone help individuals stay off drugs like cocaine and heroin because it completely negates the drugs effect on the brain.

How is Vivitrol / Naltrexone Used?

Naltrexone is available in two forms of administration. It may be prescribed in pill form as a daily medication and as a monthly injection, labeled Vivitrol. For alcohol dependency treatment, naltrexone is generally prescribed in pill form for the first 12 to 16 weeks of recovery. During this period of time, cravings are strongest and relapse is prevalent. Naltrexone is generally prescribed in its Vivitrol form for individuals who are addicted to narcotics. This once a month injection can be prescribed up to the first 18 months of abstinence from narcotics.

Side Effects

Naltrexone can cause immediate withdrawal symptoms if taken in conjunction with narcotics. Overdoses of naltrexone can cause liver failure.

Side Effects Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Skin rash
  • Hallucinations

How Well Does Naltrexone Work?

Naltrexone and Vivitrol do not work on everyone. It should not be prescribed while the individual is still using narcotics or drinking or if they are still in a period of acute withdrawal. The Vivitrol injection is believed to be more effective as the need for daily medication is removed. When taking Naltrexone in pill form, individuals can stop taking the medication and experience the effects of alcohol and narcotics. It is recommended that Naltrexone be an element in a treatment plan as opposed to the sole treatment component.