How It Works and Is It Safe?
Vivitrol is a prescription medication that features an extended-release version of naltrexone, an opioid-antagonist that is used in medication assisted treatment for alcoholism and opioid dependence. Naltrexone was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in opioid treatment programs in 1984. Vivitrol, which patients receive via a monthly injection, was approved for use in alcohol treatment in 2006, and for opioid addiction treatment in 2010.
In most cases, when taken as directed under the supervision of a qualified medical professional as part of a medication assisted opioid treatment program, Vivitrol has proved to be safe for both short-term and long-term use. Naltrexone does increase a person’s risk for liver damage, so it is important to complete a full physical examination prior to taking this medication and to report any problems to your prescribing physician.
Naltrexone (and, in turn Vivitrol) is not safe for use by pregnant women, and cannot be taken by individuals who have taken any opioids in the past seven days.
As is the case with virtually all prescription medications, Vivitrol can cause side effects. Your healthcare provider can discuss the safety and possible side effects of Vivitrol in specific detail with you and will work with you to decide if this is the right medication for you.
The Effectiveness of Vivitrol Treatment
Several studies have documented Vivitrol’s effectiveness. For example, one study completed in recent years reported that those who received Vivitrol reported an average of 99.2% opioid-free days. Also, drug cravings among the Vivitrol recipients were more than 10 times lower than among those who did not receive Vivitrol.
Another study showed that the majority of patients who received medication assisted treatment using Vivitrol continued to experience success while receiving this medication for 12 months following the study. Half of the patients remained completely opioid-free, none reported serious reactions at the injection site, and most reported positive results including reduced drug cravings, lower opioid use, and overall improved quality of life,
Benefits of Vivitrol Treatment plus Counseling
Of course, Vivitrol is only part of a comprehensive medication assisted opioid addiction treatment program. At Indiana Comprehensive Treatment Centers, clients also receive individual and group counseling, as well as additional support services as deemed necessary and appropriate. For clients and their family members, understanding the following can significantly improve the treatment experience:
How You Can Be Successful in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program
First, understand that treatment is just one part of a comprehensive long-term effort to achieve and maintain sobriety. The process will require you to make a commitment to your health and your recovery and then make the changes that will be necessary to turn that commitment into a reality. To get the most out of your treatment experience, know that the people with whom you will work are dedicated to helping you meet your goals. You will be required to take an honest look at the life you have been leading, acknowledge the unhealthy decisions you have made, and prepare to make meaningful changes. When you enter treatment, do so with the mindset that you are finally ready to stop making excuses and start making the real and lasting changes that will support a healthier tomorrow. The road may not be smooth, straight, or obstacle-free, but if you are committed to the process and dedicated to achieving your objectives, the journey will be more than worth the effort.
How to Support Your Loved One during Medication Assisted Treatment
Watching a loved one suffer with an opioid addiction can be painful, frustrating, and heartbreaking. But do not doubt for a minute that the support you have shown to your loved one has been wasted or ineffective. Your dedication may be the reason that he or she finally entered treatment and your support may be the difference between relapse and continued success. When your loved one enters a medication assisted treatment program, educate yourself about what treatment will entail, prepare yourself to support the changes that he or she will be making, and look into getting involved with a support group or family therapy program yourself. Your life has been affected by your loved one’s addiction and in order to be most supportive during his or her recovery, you need to make sure that you do not neglect your own physical, mental, or emotional health. Your loved one’s treatment center can be an excellent resource to find the information and assistance you need to help yourself and support your loved one.
The Side Effects of Vivitrol
The following are among potential side effects associated with Vivitrol use:
- Liver damage
- Pain, swelling, or scabbing near the injection site
- Shortness of breath, persistent cough, or other respiratory problems
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle cramps
- Dental pain
For specific information Vivitrol side effects, and how this medication may affect you, please consult your healthcare provider or contact an Indiana Comprehensive Treatment Center.