What Is Vivitrol and How Does It Work?

Characterized by an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in an addictive behavior irrespective of the physical and psychological harm caused, addictions are complex disorders that impact individuals in various ways.

Individuals suffering from addiction may have altered brain function. This leads to intense cravings that make substances seem irresistible. Furthermore, every addiction comes with unique symptoms and behaviors.

For this very reason, the process of overcoming an addiction is often the most challenging journey in a person’s life. Still, with compassionate and skilled professional help, recovery is possible.

What is Vivitrol?

To achieve a sustainable recovery, multiple therapy methods are introduced to provide a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan. One of the medications currently offered to people in recovery is Vivitrol.

A brand-name prescription medication, Vivitrol is prescribed to people living with alcohol dependence and those recovering from opioid dependence.

How Does It Work?

Reducing the effects of euphoria and sedation caused by alcohol and opioids, Vivitrol reduces neurological effects by replacing the substance in the receptor sites.

During recovery from opioids or alcohol, Vivitrol is encountered following detoxification to prevent relapse.

When consumed, Vivitrol binds to opioid and alcohol receptors, the pleasure centers in our brain, without activating them. This relieves cravings and enables the individual in question to control their urges. As opioids and alcohol are unable to bind to the body’s receptors, Vivitrol additionally inhibits the ability to become high on substances.

Recovery and cravings are two major challenges encountered throughout recovery; however, Vivitrol can mitigate both. As noted above, when Vivitrol is administered, cravings decrease, and the inability to get high from substances reduces the risk of relapse.

Dispensed once a month via injection, Vivitrol is a relatively non-invasive and infrequent medication. This enables individuals to focus on other aspects of recovery, such as rebuilding relationships with friends and loved ones.

What Are the Side Effects of Vivitrol?

As with many medications during recovery, Vivitrol comes hand-in-hand with some side effects. If administered appropriately by a doctor, most of the side effects experienced are mild.

The main side effects include:

  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Toothache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headaches

Upon commencing treatment, a number of the side effects noted above diminish within a few days or weeks. However, there are some severe side effects associated with Vivitrol. Although these side effects are rare, it is important to become familiar with them before beginning treatment.

These severe side effects of Vivitrol include:

  • Severe reactions at the injection site
  • Liver damage
  • Pneumonia
  • An allergic reaction
  • Low mood
  • Depression

What Are the Downsides to Vivitrol?

Though Vivitrol aids the recovery process, it cannot be used exclusively. Typically prescribed in conjunction with a treatment plan, there are some things to consider before deciding whether to incorporate it.

Before starting a course of Vivitrol treatment, you must be opioid-free for at least one week. If opioids are present in a person’s body when Vivitrol is administered, drug withdrawal symptoms may be experienced.

If withdrawal symptoms arise and cause an individual to relapse, they will be required to wait for an additional one to two weeks before receiving another injection.

There is also a danger of overdose while using Vivitrol. Although the treatment reduces an individual’s ability to feel the effects of drugs, it does not eliminate the ability to overdose on them. In some instances, people will try to override Vivitrol. They will continue to administer opioid drugs, putting them at severe risk of an overdose.

What Are the Success Rates with Vivitrol?

Research shows that Vivitrol works most effectively when implemented into a treatment plan that combines therapy and group support. An effective part of opioid recovery, a study that took place over twenty-four weeks found that 36% of people who were prescribed Vivitrol remained opioid-free. In contrast, only 23% of those who took the placebo medication avoided relapse.

Vivitrol is not a standalone solution. Instead, the medication should be included in a holistic treatment plan that consists of various approaches. Providing relief from opioid cravings, Vivitrol enables many in recovery to spend their time and energy on counseling, addiction education, and group sessions.

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