Authored by Helen Parson

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por

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Vivitrol aka Naltrexone


Vivitrol may be given to you via prescription if you are suffering from opioid or alcohol addiction. The generic name for Vivitol is Naltrexone and it is administered by a healthcare professional on a monthly basis.


Vivitrol is a long-lasting and extended-release medication. It is an easy medication to take for opioid and alcohol abusers as Naltrexone needs to be taken just once a month, rather than daily. The drug is known as an opioid antagonist, because it binds to opioid receptors in the body and there is no dopamine release when it is used so you won’t get high when you take Vivitrol.


Instead of getting high, the drug blocks opioid receptors. If you were to have an opioid relapse while taking Vivitrol, you wouldn’t feel the intended effects of the opioid drug. Despite not feeling high, you may experience other side effects such as respiratory depression after taking an opioid while using Naltrexone.


Using Vivitrol


You shouldn’t take Vivitrol as a cure for opioid or alcohol addiction. The drug isn’t meant to be used by itself. Vivitrol is a treatment to help your recovery from opioid or alcohol addiction. It should be used as part of an addiction treatment plan.


One of the important aspects of Vivitrol is that it may help eliminate your drug cravings. Due to limiting your drug cravings, it can help prevent a relapse. Since your drug cravings are lower, you are able to concentrate on rehab and recovery.


Before using Naltrexone, you must fully detox your body from opioids. If you still have opioids in your system when you begin using Vivitrol, you may go into withdrawal immediately. Therefore, you must be fully detoxed before beginning the medication.


Vivitrol can be used to help alcoholics end their dependency on drink. The medication stops the pleasurable effect alcohol has on the mind and body. Naltrexone may prevent alcohol cravings as well.

Risks of using Vivitrol


Vivitrol does have possible health risks associated with it. The biggest issue is an opioid overdose can occur. Naltrexone blocks an opioid’s effects on your mind and body. Due to the block prevented by the drug, some opioid abusers attempt to overcome Naltrexone by using large doses of heroin and other opioids11.P. H. Earley, J. Zummo, A. Memisoglu, B. L. Silverman and D. R. Gastfriend, Open-label Study of Injectable Extended-release Naltrexone (XR-NTX) in Healthcare Professionals With Opioid Dependence – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from This oftentimes leads to death.


If you are a former opioid user, your sensitivity to opioid drugs may be far lower than it was previously. Beginning to use opioids after a long period of abstinence can lead to you using far too much of the drug, resulting in death.

Side Effects of Vivitrol


Side effects of Naltrexone during opioid or alcohol addiction treatment


  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle and/or joint pain


You may experience a skin reaction or irritation at the injection site. Eosinophilic pneumonia and liver toxicity are additional side effects of Vivitrol use. Despite the side effects, Naltrexone may be beneficial for many people seeking an end to their opioid or alcohol addiction.

Is Vivitrol Addictive?


There is some evidence to suggest that medically assisted treatments (MAT) for drugs and alcohol can be addictive. At present, this is a controversial subject. MAT options are designed to help individuals in their recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. However, it is believed that some of the drugs used in MAT options are habit-forming.


An example of an MAT that becomes habit-forming is methadone. The medication was designed to help opioid addicts to ease off of the harsh drugs. However, some individuals grow dependent on or addict to methadone. Currently, research is still being done on the addictiveness of Vivitrol. The drug doesn’t establish a dopamine or reward response in your brain. It efficiently blocks an opioid’s effect and reduces your cravings.


Although Vivitrol is helpful in the fight against opioid and alcohol abuse, there is no wonder drug to end your addiction. Vivitrol is a great option for you, but the MAT should be taken while gaining help from other forms of drug and alcohol treatment such as rehab. Psychotherapy gives you the chance to retrain the brain and it provides you with support. Combined with Vivitrol, you give yourself a fighting chance at gaining long-term sobriety.


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    1.P. H. Earley, J. Zummo, A. Memisoglu, B. L. Silverman and D. R. Gastfriend, Open-label Study of Injectable Extended-release Naltrexone (XR-NTX) in Healthcare Professionals With Opioid Dependence – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 8, 2022, from
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