Relapse is an unfortunate reality of addiction. In fact, relapse rates range from 50-90%. This frightening statistic is why medically-assisted treatment (MAT) options exist; to help people suffering from addiction achieve and maintain recovery. Some options include Methadone, Suboxone, and VIVITROL®.
VIVITROL® is prescription injectable medicine that can be used to prevent a relapse to opioid dependence or alcohol after a person has gone through detoxification. When combined with a solid alcohol and drug recovery program, such as counseling and one-on-one therapy, VIVITROL® can help a person stay in recovery longer.
Recovery Centers of America provides medication assisted treatment (MAT) that includes VIVITROL® for patients who are hoping to achieve sobriety from opioid addiction, including addiction to alcohol and opioids. Here are a few things you’ll want to know about VIVITROL®.
What is VIVITROL®?
VIVITROL® is the brand name for naltrexone and is an opioid blocker that is a monthly injection administered by a healthcare provider. VIVITROL® was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 to prevent relapse in those recovering from an alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone minizines cravings for alcohol differently than other types of alcohol prevention medicines, which can make you sick when alcohol is consumed. VIVITROL® was also approved by the FDA in 2010 to treat opioid addiction. It was discovered VIVITROL® could aid in opioid relapse after a study found people who took VIVITROL® during rehabilitation stayed in the program, longer and were more likely to remain abstinent and avoid relapse.
Before beginning VIVITROL®, a person must be opioid-free for at least 7 to 14 days to avoid sudden opioid withdrawal. Naltrexone removes opioids from opioid receptors; therefore, if a person is going through a medically assisted detoxification via buprenorphine, VIVITROL® can stop the medicine from working and make withdrawal symptoms worse.
All forms of naltrexone work to stop the euphoria that alcohol and opioids can cause. While VIVITROL® prevents endorphins from binding opioid receptors in people who consume alcohol, it also blocks opoid drugs from binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Not only can this make treatment more effective, but it can also help with relapse.
VIVITROL® treatment program
Unfortunately, there is no magic cure that’ll put a stop to substance use disorder. However, VIVITROL® can help patients achieve and maintain their recovery. One study found that people who use VIVITROL® in addition to counseling to treat opioid addiction have 90% opioid-free weeks, compared to 35% who took a placebo. Additionally, people who used VIVITROL® in addition to rehab and continued therapy were 17 times less likely to relapse than those who did not use VIVITROL®.
VIVITROL® vs Suboxone
Buprenorphine (brand name Suboxone) is an opioid agonist that can help reduce opioid use or protect against relapse. Naltrexone (brand name VIVITROL®) is an evidence-based medication for opioid use disorder. VIVITROL® is an extended-release injection delivered monthly, while Suboxone is given in oral pill or oral film form. Some consider VIVITROL® a lower maintain option, since it is monthly, and also treatments for alcohol use disorder. Suboxone can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms, while VIVITROL® cannot.
VIVITROL® and Suboxone can help reduce cravings and protect against relapse. VIVITROL® requires a period of opioid abstinence, while Suboxone does not.
What happens if you take opiates while on VIVITROL®?
Individuals should not take opiates while on VIVITROL®, as this can be dangerous and result in overdose. Because VIVITROL® blocks the effects of drugs, a person may take higher doses in order to feel the effects. The danger in this is that they can still overdose even when they don’t feel the effects. VIVITROL® can also impact a person’s tolerance to opioids, increasing their sensitivity. However, a personal doesn’t usually know this has happened, so when they take the same amount of opioids they did before they started VIVITROL®, they may end up overdosing.
How does VIVITROL® work?
VIVITROL® is an opioid antagonist – or blocking – medication. Antagonists create a barrier that blocks opioid molecules form attaching to opioid receptors. While antagonists attach to opioid receptors, they do not cause the release of dopamine. In other words, the person will get relief without getting high. Antagonists such as VIVITROL® are non-addictive and don’t lead to physical dependence.
What drugs does VIVITROL® block?
VIVITROL® blocks the effects of opioids, like heroin and opioid pain medication (such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, etc.). That is why the risk of overdose is higher when taking VIVITROL® – a person may not feel the effects of the drug, even if it’s the same dose they were taking before starting VIVITROL®, and take more.
How long does VIVITROL® shot block opiates?
The VIVITROL® blocks opioid receptors for one month at a time. Once given, it begins a blocking effect right away. It slowly decreases and then eventually goes away over time. Generally, VIVITROL® shots are given once every 28 days.
How much does VIVITROL® cost?
Like with most other types of treatment for disease, the cost of VIVITROL® depends on your insurance and the coverage it provides. The range of VIVITROL® treatment program costs ranges depending on the facility and may be covered by both private and public insurance.
How long do VIVITROL® side effects last?
As with most medications, the type, severity and range of side effects from VIVITROL® vary from person to person. Some individuals may find the side effects go away with a day or two, while others may have lingering side effects. Your doctor may be able to help you manage these effects.
What happens if you drink on VIVITROL®?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), individuals who use naltrexone (VIVITROL®) while drinking alcohol do not face any significant dangers. They may see symptoms similar to those of alcohol use, including poor coordination, decreased response time, slower rate of thinking and responding, and a decrease in the urge to drink.
VIVITROL® side effects
Side effects can include risk of opioid overdose, reactions at the injection site, sudden opioid withdrawal and liver damage or hepatitis. Common side effects include nausea, headache, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, tiredness, loss of appetite, increased thirst, muscle or joint aches, weakness, sleep problems, decreased sex drive, or impotence.
Recovery Centers of America Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Clinic Locations
To learn about RCA’s Suboxone and Methadone treatment facilities, click one of the links below. Currently, we have two locations in New Jersey: Trenton Healthcare Clinic in Trenton and Bravo Medical in Somerdale (not far from Camden). New MAT clinic locations coming soon.
New Jersey MAT Clinic Locations
Methadone and Suboxone in Trenton
Methadone and Suboxone in Somerdale (10 miles from Camden)
Pennsylvania MAT Clinic Locations
Methadone and Suboxone in Lansdowne
Click here to see all Recovery Centers of America locations (including MAT, inpatient and outpatient) on a map.