Medication can sometimes be a vital element of treatment for people who are receiving care for certain types of addiction, such as alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. At Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry, we offer a variety of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options, including Vivitrol.
To ensure that our patients have the details they need to make the most informed decisions about their health, we thoroughly explain Vivitrol’s features, benefits, and potential side effects before we administer this medication. We also answer important questions such as what is Vivitrol, how does this medication work, and who is (and isn’t) a good fit for Vivitrol?.
Let’s begin by answering the question, what is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is the brand name of a prescription medication that can help people who have become addicted to heroin, morphine, fentanyl, prescription painkillers, and other opioids. It may also be incorporated into treatment for people who have developed an addiction to alcohol.
Vivitrol is an extended-release version of a medication called naltrexone. It is delivered via injection. Vivitrol was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. This original approval was for use in alcohol treatment programs. In 2010, the FDA authorized the use of Vivitrol in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for opioid addiction.
Now that we’ve addressed the question, “What is Vivitrol?” we can move on to discussing how this medication works.
Vivitrol (naltrexone) binds to receptors in the central nervous system that are targeted by opioids and alcohol. This has the effect of blocking these other drugs from interacting with these receptors. Thus, if a person who is taking Vivitrol uses alcohol or opioids, they won’t experience the pleasurable high that these substances typically provide.
In addition to preventing the sedating or euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, Vivitrol also reduces cravings for these drugs. When a person doesn’t feel the same compulsions that formerly forced them to abuse alcohol or other drugs – and when they know that using these drugs won’t produce the effects that they previously enjoyed – they are less likely to resort to this self-defeating behavior.
Of course, it is important to note that Vivitrol alone cannot address the behavioral and social aspects of substance abuse and addiction. A person who receives Vivitrol as part of a comprehensive MAT program should also take part in therapy, where they can develop the skills to support their successful, long-term recovery.
One Vivitrol injection lasts for about 30 days. Patients who receive Vivitrol only need to return to their doctor’s office or treatment center once a month to get their next injection. This is a significant benefit, especially when compared to other MAT options that require daily visits to a clinic or treatment center to get that day’s dose.
Recovery from alcohol addiction can be complicated by the fact that alcohol use is so prevalent in modern society. The urge to drink can be magnified when a person is near others who are using or abusing this dangerous drug.
Vivitrol can significantly reduce alcohol cravings. This removes a common obstacle to recovery. While the individual will still need to address the social aspects of sobriety, when they use Vivitrol they can do so without having to endure the persistent physical compulsion to drink again.
Recovery from opioid addiction is a lifelong process that involves several stages or phases. For many people, the first stage is detox, when they rid their body of opioids.
Following detox, as the most distressing symptoms subside, it’s common to continue to experience cravings for opioids. Vivitrol helps by suppressing these cravings, which can make it a bit easier for a person to remain abstinent as they work to build a foundation for recovery.
As noted earlier on this page, Vivitrol can also diminish opioids’ effectiveness, so even if someone attempts to use the drugs to get high, they are unlikely to achieve the sensations they were seeking.
The decision to prescribe Vivitrol or another medication is a personal matter that should be based on a thorough review of each patient’s history, current needs, and long-term goals. However, in general terms, Vivitrol may be an ideal element of care for patients who meet criteria such as:
Again, please note that these criteria are listed here for general informational purposes only. Deciding to use Vivitrol or another medication for alcohol or opioid addiction is an individual choice that should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.
If you have any questions about Vivitrol or any other aspect of medication-assisted treatment for alcohol or opioid addiction, please contact Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry directly. A member of our team can answer all your questions and help you make the best decisions for your recovery.
Vivitrol is not recommended for people who meet the following criteria:
Before you receive your first dose of Vivitrol, the professional who prescribes this medication should review your medical history and discuss your risk for side effects.
If you ever have any questions about Vivitrol or any other aspect of your care for alcoholism or opioid addiction, you should never hesitate to express these concerns to a member of your treatment team.
If you believe that you can benefit from Vivitrol treatment for alcoholism or opioid addiction, Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry may be the perfect place for you. Our addiction treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, offers a dynamic array of therapies and medication options, including Vivitrol, within a safe and highly supportive environment.
When you choose to begin or resume your recovery journey with us, we will assess the full scope of your needs and develop a personalized plan just for you. Throughout your time in our care, the dedicated members of your treatment team will work closely with you to ensure that you are receiving maximum benefit from Vivitrol and all other aspects of your care.
To learn more about Vivitrol treatment or any other element of programming at Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our appointment page or call our center today.
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