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Vivitrol is one of the most used medications for treating alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. These two issues are some of the most common when it comes to substance abuse. The number of people dealing with addictions is very high – with more than 50,828 Americans who have died because of opioid overdoses in 2019 and more than 95,000 Americans who pass away annually because of excessive alcohol use.
Doctors prescribe Vivitrol to people dealing with alcohol or opioid addictions. It is very effective in helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. What’s even better is that cravings decrease too, so the chances of relapsing are lower.
Vivitrol can be great, but it is important to know how it acts and when it should be used. Not everyone qualifies for a Vivitrol prescription, as it may not have the best impact on everyone. In fact, it may lead to side effects in some persons.
What is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is a prescription medication that is given to people who are dealing with an alcohol or opioid addiction. It can completely block the effect of opioids, but also reduce cravings for both opioids and alcohol.
Its generic name is naltrexone, and the medication is an extended-release one with long-lasting effects. What’s great about Vivitrol is that it doesn’t need to be used daily – so, there is no risk if you forget about it once.
The medication is considered an opioid antagonist – therefore, it can bind to the opioid receptors. The difference between Vivitrol and opioids, though, is that the former doesn’t result in a dopamine release that would usually happen when consuming opioids. Instead, it can block the opioid receptors, so if an individual would start using opioids again during the treatment, they would become frustrated as they won’t be able to reach the wanted effects.
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How Is Vivitrol Used?
Vivitrol can become a part of an alcohol or drug dependence program. It is administered through an injection. The doctor will inject it into the muscles, and the patient may have to return to the doctor’s office once every 4 weeks to receive this injection. It’s important to know that only a healthcare professional can give the injection.
The medication is only approved to be used in adults, so children should not be given Vivitrol.
It is essential to know that Vivitrol alone cannot cure addictions. It can only become part of a longer addiction treatment program. While the medication can help reduce cravings and the risk of relapsing, it should be used alongside other types of treatment, including behavioral therapy.
An individual will have to fully detox from drugs before taking Vivitrol. Otherwise, it could lead to opioid withdrawal. If someone consumes alcohol, the medication can block its positive effects.
Side Effects of Vivitrol
Despite being an effective part of addiction treatment, Vivitrol can also lead to some side effects. They can be mild or serious, depending on the case. If you need Vivitrol, your healthcare professional will also inform you about the potential side effects and may even advise you on how to deal with them.
If the substance is used for opioid addiction, some of the side effects may include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Higher blood pressure
When used for alcohol addiction, some of the most common side effects are:
- Muscle cramps
- Belly pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Joint stiffness or pain
- Decreased appetite
- Reactions at the injection site
Some of the more serious side effects occur more rarely, yet it is still important to know how to recognize them. Serious side effects could be:
- Opioid withdrawal
- Severe reactions at the injection site
- Liver diseases like hepatitis
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Allergic reactions
Vivitrol Precautions You Should Be Aware Of
It is very important to talk to your doctor before you take Vivitrol. Some details about your health history should be revealed before using the medication. In some cases, patients may not be able to take Vivitrol when they are dealing with certain medical conditions.
If you use opioids, then taking Vivitrol could make the effects of opioids more intense. What’s worse is that the risk of an overdose increases if you miss a Vivitrol dose and take opioids, but also if you take the opioid drugs before the following Vivitrol dose. Overdoses are also more likely to happen if you just finished treatment with Vivitrol.
The medication is not recommended for people who experienced allergic reactions to it or any ingredient in its composition. Your doctor may prescribe other treatments for you.
Vivitrol should not be taken until 7-14 days have passed since your last opioid dose. Otherwise, Vivitrol could cause bad withdrawal symptoms.
Vivitrol Addiction Potential
When it comes to using Vivitrol for addictions, many people have a concern: is Vivitrol addictive too?
This concern comes from the fact that similar addiction treatment options may cause an addiction themselves. Suboxone, for instance, contains Buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist and activates the opioid receptors partially. For this reason, it has a small risk of addiction.
Another medication that treats addictions and is addictive is Methadone. Just like Buprenorphine, it can activate the brain’s opioid receptors, resulting in euphoric feelings. Addictions are likely to happen in this situation.
Fortunately, Vivitrol is different. Even though it binds to the opioid receptors too, it blocks the opioid effects completely without releasing dopamine. So, it cannot cause addiction.
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How Real Deal Can Help You
Real Deal may be your solution for getting rid of your alcohol or opioid addiction. Dealing with everything on your own can be stressful and you may not be able to quit, not without going through withdrawal. Therefore, our professionals will be there for you to make sure you quit successfully.
And after you are out of detox, you can stay in a sober living home where you will respect your treatment and stay away from drug or alcohol temptations. At the same time, you’ll enjoy some freedom and you’ll be able to form bonds with other former addicts.
Vivitrol is a useful medication against addictions. If your doctor prescribed this substance, there is no need to worry – it is not addictive and it will help you get back on the right track.