Vivitrol is a once-monthly injection containing naltrexone, a medication that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders. The Vivitrol shot is administered after a period of detoxification and works by stabilizing brain chemistry and reducing cravings.
Vivitrol is meant to be used as a part of a complete treatment program that involves counseling, behavioral therapy, and peer support. When used as directed and combined with comprehensive treatment, Vivitrol can help individuals achieve and maintain sobriety.
Here are seven benefits of Vivitrol treatment.
1. Ease of Use
The Vivitrol shot contains the same dose regardless of age, weight, gender, or substance abuse history. It is administered once monthly by a healthcare professional in their office. Clients don’t have to take Vivitrol home, administer it themselves, or worry about getting refills. As a result, the medication requires very little upkeep compared to other medications. This simplicity makes Vivitrol an attractive option for many people in recovery.
2. No Risk for Abuse or Non-Compliance
Since the Vivitrol shot is only administered in the office, there is virtually no risk for abuse. Clients cannot take home multiple doses or administer the shot themselves, so they won’t abuse the medication. Not only that, but as a monthly injection clients don’t have to worry about taking a daily pill, making non-compliance less of an issue than it is with other MAT medications, such as Suboxone.
3. Fewer Cravings
Cravings are a major obstacle that people face in recovery, and it is essential to find ways to cope with them. However, learning new coping skills takes time, and many people need extra help dealing with cravings in the beginning.
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that binds to and blocks opioid receptors. This process tricks the brain into thinking there are opioids occupying those receptors, resulting in fewer opioid cravings. With fewer opioid cravings, clients are less likely to relapse and more likely to stay in recovery.
When it comes to alcoholism recovery, naltrexone has been shown to aid in brain function regulation and restoration of healthy chemical balances, both of which can help reduce alcohol cravings.
4. Minimal Side Effects
Other medications that are used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) such as Suboxone are associated with many side effects. While Vivitrol can cause side effects as well, they tend to be mild, resolving on their own after just a few days.
Injection site reactions are the most common side effect of Vivitrol. People may experience redness, swelling, itching, and irritation at the injection site (usually on the buttocks). Injection site reactions are normal and tend to subside in a couple of days.
Other potential side effects of Vivitrol are headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, dizziness, and appetite loss. Many people don’t experience any side effects. Severe side effects are extremely rare.
5. Vivitrol Isn’t Habit-Forming
Naltrexone, the active ingredient in the Vivitrol shot, does not produce euphoric side effects and it is not physically addictive. People can take Vivitrol for months or years without developing physical dependence, and they don’t experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it or miss a dose.
Other medications used in MAT, like buprenorphine and methadone, are habit-forming. Abruptly stopping either of these medications can result in symptoms of withdrawal, which may increase the risk of relapse. Since Vivitrol is easier to quit when you’re ready to do so, it is the preferred option among many MAT patients.
6. Improved Treatment Outcomes
Vivitrol is used as a part of a complete medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. MAT is known to improve treatment retention and completion rates, thereby reducing relapse after treatment and providing for better treatment outcomes. MAT is also thought to provide a more comprehensive, whole-person approach to recovery compared to traditional treatment methods.
7. Scientifically Studied and Proven Effective
Peer-reviewed studies have proven just how effective Vivitrol treatment can be in helping individuals finish rehab and avoid relapse. For example, one six-month study observed that 36% of Vivitrol patients completed their addiction treatment program compared to the placebo group, of which only 23% completed their treatment regimen.
Another 24-week study found that 64% of patients who did not take Vivitrol relapsed, while only 43% of patients taking Vivitrol relapsed.
Find out if the Vivitrol Shot is Right For You
Vivitrol may not be right for everyone, so it’s important to consult with a trusted substance abuse treatment provider before choosing a MAT medication.
At ARISE Treatment Center, our compassionate admissions counselors are available 24 hours a day to assess your needs, answer any questions you may have, and help you begin the right treatment program for you. If you’re interested in learning more about the Vivitrol shot or discussing your alternative treatment options, please contact us today.
- National Library of Medicine: Injectable Extended-Release Naltrexone to Treat Opioid Use Disorder, Retrieved June 2023 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK481477/
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Vivitrol, Retrieved June 2023 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/021897s052lbl.pdf
- JAMA Network: Efficacy and Tolerability of Long-Acting Injectable Naltrexone for Alcohol Dependence, Retrieved June 2023 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/200637