What are the Side Effects of Vivitrol? - ARISE Treatment Center

Vivitrol is a prescription medication that can help you safely stop using opioids and alcohol. Before taking Vivitrol, it’s important to understand the drug’s side effects and how to manage them.

Reach out to the team at Arise Treatment Center to learn more about starting Vivitrol therapy or to find support at any stage of your recovery journey.

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is a prescription medication used to help people prevent drug and alcohol relapses. Typically, Vivitrol is given by intramuscular injection once a month. It is injected into the buttocks or glute muscles.

Vivitrol contains naltrexone, a medication that is approved to treat alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. For alcoholics, it helps stabilize brain chemistry after drinking and reduce alcohol cravings. For opioid users, it can occupy opioid receptors and reduce drug cravings.

Vivitrol works to reduce the pleasurable effects of prescription opioids and heroin by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors. It can also reduce the urge to consume alcohol by blocking the body’s response to opioids produced from the metabolism of alcohol.




Vivitrol Side Effects

Some people experience strong reactions and side effects from anti-addiction medications like Vivitrol, while some do not. The most common minor side effects of Vivitrol include:

  • Pain, swelling, bruising, or itching at the injection site
  • Infection of the injection site
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Excessive thirst
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness

There is also a risk of liver damage associated with taking Vivitrol. People with a history of hepatitis or liver disease should not take Vivitrol.

Dangerous Vivitrol Side Effects

People who take Vivitrol may experience minor withdrawal symptoms. Those who still have opioids in their system are more likely to develop significant, sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Severe vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Skin rash
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Painful urination
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the feet, lower legs, or face
  • Weight gain

Ensuring a patient is opioid-free is crucial to avoiding more severe Vivitrol side effects or withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals typically wait until a person has been free from opioids for at least 7 to 10 days before administering Vivitrol.

Vivitrol Side Effects Timeline

The majority of Vivitrol side effects are short-lived. Some people may experience minor side effects, such as nausea, after the first injection. These minor side effects often disappear within a few days and are less likely to occur as people adapt to the medication. However, some side effects can last as long as the drug is in the body–for up to a month.

Some of the long-term side effects of Vivitrol include hepatitis and depression. These conditions are treatable and may resolve within a few months. However, liver damage and depression can worsen if people do not receive treatment.

How to Manage Vivitrol Side Effects

While Vivitrol’s side effects are often minor, it’s important to know how to manage them while staying on track in recovery. Here are some ways to address many of the most common Vivitrol side effects.

Irritation at the injection site

You should only take Vivitrol as prescribed under medical supervision. You may be asked to deliver your prescribed Vivitrol from a pharmacy to your doctor’s office. However, you should not attempt to administer this medication to yourself. Your doctor or medical professional will administer the correct dose of this medication and ensure your risk of injection site injury or irritation is minimal.

If you have pain, itching, or bruising at the injection site, contact your doctor to determine if treatment is necessary.


Depression is a mood disorder that can change your emotional state and behavior. People with depression may develop suicidal thoughts. It’s important to be aware of the signs of depression and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of persistent sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Aggressive or violent behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much

Talk to a trusted loved one or medical provider if you are feeling depressed while taking Vivitrol. Seek treatment for depression, which includes medication and talk therapy.

Liver damage

Although liver damage isn’t common during Vivitrol treatment, it’s important to be aware of the risk and seek treatment if you have symptoms.

Symptoms of liver damage include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen
  • Dark urine
  • Bleeding or bruising easily
  • Itching
  • Jaundice–yellowing of the skin and eyes

People with liver damage from alcohol abuse may experience worsening damage during Vivitrol treatment. Your doctor can perform lab testing to determine the health of your liver and whether or not Vivitrol treatment is right for you.


Nausea is a common minor side effect when receiving Vivitrol treatment, especially after the first dose. If you experience nausea after Vivitrol injections, speak with your doctor about ways to manage it without interfering with your treatment.

Weight changes

Weight changes are an uncommon Vitriol side effect. Medical professionals believe people may gain weight when taking Vivitrol because they no longer use opioids and eat more regularly–and not because of the medication itself.

Some people experience a reduced appetite when receiving Vivitrol therapy and may lose weight. If you are concerned about weight changes during Vivitrol therapy, speak to your doctor about maintaining a healthy diet and weight.

Get Help Now

If you are concerned about Vivitrol side effects or need substance abuse treatment, contact the addiction specialists at Arise Treatment Center today. You don’t have to carry the weight of substance abuse alone. The help you need to put addiction behind you is just a phone call away.


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