What is Vivitrol? And is it Effective? | California Behavioral Health

What is Vivitrol? Is It Effective?

The opioid crisis, which first began as the opioid epidemic in 2011, has both destroyed and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. With a swift introduction to prescription opioids by Big Pharma in the early 2000’s to today, more people than ever before are hooked on opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and heroin.

Opioids are highly potent substances that can quickly create dependence in those who abuse them. Once dependent on opioids, attempting to stop using and get sober can seem like an insurmountable feat to achieve, especially on one’s own. That is because the body is now reliant on the presence of opioids. Not using them in one’s regular amount can trigger the onset of deeply painful and upsetting withdrawal symptoms. The more that a person continues to use once dependent, the faster they will develop a psychological dependence on opioids. This means that in addition to requiring opioids to prevent physical withdrawal symptoms from developing, a person dependent on opioids now feels like they cannot function on a mental and emotional level without them. 

Despite the intense dependence that is known to form in those who abuse opioids, there is treatment available. Addiction cannot be cured. However, addiction can be treated so that recovering addicts can utilize healthy coping skills and establish lifestyle changes that support their continued recovery. For many, part of that treatment includes the use of Vivitrol.

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is a prescription medication that is capable of helping recovering opioid addicts maintain their sobriety. The main ingredient, naltrexone, is offered in tablet form. However, the brand name Vivitrol medication is administered in a once monthly shot. Vivitrol is an opioid blocker. It blocks opioid receptors in the brain so if a person uses opioids, they will not feel the desired effects. It serves as medication that stops cravings from developing, as well as deters individuals from relapsing through further opioid abuse. 

Vivitrol cannot be taken at the same time opioids are being abused. It also can’t be taken when a person is actively detoxing from them. This injection can only be given if the patient has stopped using opioids at least 7 to 14 days before receiving the shot. There is an extremely important reason for this. Receiving a dose of Vivitrol while opioids are still in the system can trigger the onset of sudden opioid withdrawal. This is a severe condition that can end in death if not properly treated by a medical professional. 

If a person has been clear of opioids for at least one to two full weeks, Vivitrol injections may be able to begin (depending on each patient’s unique health factors). These injections are administered one per month and are recommended to be taken for six months to a year to fully benefit from their effects. Vivitrol is an extended release medication that continues to produce effects for roughly 30 days. 

Risk Factors of Taking Vivitrol

It is extremely important for patients receiving Vivitrol injections to abstain from opioid use. One of the greatest dangers of abusing opioids while on Vivitrol is the risk for fatal overdose. Since Vivitrol is an opioid blocker, it prevents the effects of opioids. Individuals who struggle with opioid addiction are at risk for continuing to abuse more and more opioids in an attempt to get high only to suffer an overdose. Those who are taking Vivitrol can become more sensitive to smaller doses of opioids. So, if they abuse them in the same capacity as they used to, overdose can occur. 

In general, Vivitrol is a highly revered prescription medication that has helped save the lives of countless recovering opioid addicts. It is, by far, one of the most effective tools in opioid addiction treatment today. 

Is Vivitrol Effective? 

As mentioned before, Vivitrol is an opioid blocker, so the opioids receptors in the brain are not activated. This prevents a person from getting high on opioids as well as helps to reduce their cravings for continued use. A medication such as this has helped change the way that opioid addiction is treated. Vivitrol allows countless individuals the opportunity to get sober and stay sober for extended periods of time, if not lifetimes. 

The effectiveness of Vivitrol was tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical study of 124 people held over the course of a six -month period. The study produced the following results:

  • More patients achieved abstinence when provided with Vivitrol as opposed to a placebo
  • 46 out of 126 patients who received Vivitrol obtained complete abstinence  while 28 out of 124 patients did not achieve full abstinence
  • Patients were less likely to go from relapse to dependence
  • One out of 17 patients placed on a placebo for the study relapsed to dependence 
  • There were 94% less relapses to dependence when taking Vivitrol
  • Patients who were treated with Vivitrol experienced a decrease in cravings, with a cravings score of  10.1 from 18.2
  • Patients who received a placebo had an increase in craving score of 0.7 to 21.8

Based on this and other studies, Vivitrol has proven to be a highly effective treatment for cravings associated with opioid addiction. It has also been proven to help reduce cravings in those with alcohol use disorder, however individuals recovering from alcohol use disorder are more commonly prescribed a naltrexone tablet as opposed to the Vivitrol injection.

Do You Need Professional Addiction Treatment? Call Us Right Now.

We understand how physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging the disease of addiction is. At California Behavioral Health in Palm Springs, CA, we know that by the time people come looking for help, they are likely at one of the lowest points in their lives. We are pleased to offer several different services that can meet you or your loved ones treatment needs. By reaching out to us today, we can get you started on a treatment plan that will guide you away from active substance abuse and towards a healthy recovery. 

So, do not wait any longer. No matter if it is you or someone you love who is in need of help, call us today. There is no time to lose.


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