Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction. While naltrexone hydrochloride is used both daily and monthly, Vivitrol is the monthly form of the drug. The US Food and Drug Administration approved Vivitrol in 2006 for the treatment of alcohol abuse...
How Vivitrol works
Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and reduces the cravings many people feel after quitting...
Doctors prescribe Vivitrol for patients who have already stopped drinking and using opioid drugs (such as morphine, heroin, and prescription pain relievers) and who have gone through a detox process.
With alcohol, it’s not clear how Vivitrol actually works, but it does appear to change how the brain responds to alcohol consumption.
You will give Vivitrol by intramuscular injection once a month. One of the major problems with the daily dosage of naltrexone was drug compliance; Patients had to remember this and be ready to take the pills every day. With once-a-month intake, medication compliance plays a lesser role in the treatment plan...
Is Vivitrol Right For You?
Patients who are already completely detoxified from alcohol and opioids are candidates for Vivitrol..It is not intended to help anyone stop drinking.
According to the FDA, patients “must not have opioids in their system when they start taking Vivitrol; otherwise, symptoms of opioid withdrawal may occur. Patients may also be more sensitive to opioids while taking Vivitrol at the next scheduled time Dose is due. If they miss a dose or the end of Vivitrol treatment, patients may inadvertently overdose if they resume opioid use. ”
Patients with acute hepatitis or liver failure should not take Vivitrol.
Vivitrol versus other drugs
Vivitrol is the first non-narcotic, non-addictive, extended-release drug approved for the treatment of opioid addiction. Methadone and buprenorphine, also approved for the treatment of opioid addiction, can be addicting..Methadone is only available through specialized clinics. Buprenorphine is available at medical offices, but it and methadone require daily doses.
According to the FDA, some of the side effects of Vivitrol during the studies include:..
- a headache
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful joints
Other potentially serious side effects of Vivitrol include:
- Allergic reactions such as hives, skin rashes, facial swelling
- Feeling depressed..
- Liver damage
- lung infection
- Injection site reactions which can be serious and may require surgical intervention
- Suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicidal behavior
If you have thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for the support and assistance of a trained advisor. If you or a loved one is in imminent danger, call 911.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
Alkermes, the manufacturer of the drug, claims the main side effects are:..
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Inflammation of the nasal passages
Vivitrol works best in conjunction with an overall treatment program. Research shows it is more effective than drugs that require a daily dose, and double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies show Vivitrol is effective in preventing relapses and reducing drug cravings.
FDA studies found that Vivitrol patients were more likely to stay on treatment and not use illegal drugs. 36 percent were able to remain drug-free for the full six months, compared with 23 percent in the placebo group.