Is Vivitrol a Controlled Substance?


Vivitrol is a popular medication that is used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment for people who are suffering from opioid dependence, or alcohol use disorder.

Although many medications to treat opioid dependence, in particular, are controlled substances, many wonder if Vivitrol is too.

In this article, we will clarify what it means to use a controlled substance, if Vivitrol is a controlled substance, and why it matters.

Read on to learn more about:

  • What is a Controlled Substance?
  • Is Vivitrol a Controlled Substance?
  • Why Vivitrol Isn’t Controlled
  • What implications this has
  • What Drug Class Is Vivitrol?
  • Regulatory and Safety Considerations for Vivitrol

 Let’s get into it!

What is a Controlled Substance?

A controlled substance is any substance whose production, manufacture, and distribution is regulated by federal law.

The law, named the Controlled Substances Act decides which drugs/medications have the potential to cause harm and be addictive, and are regulated accordingly.

The drugs and medications are classed by the risk they have of being addictive and causing harm, and whether or not they have any medical use.

 Is Vivitrol a Controlled Substance?

No, although Vivitrol is a medication that can only be obtained with a prescription, it is not a controlled substance in the US.

This means that it has very low potential to be abused, and is not considered as being addictive.

Many medications which treat Opioid Use Disorder are controlled substances.

 Why Vivitrol Isn’t Controlled

Controlled substances are those that have the potential for harm, usually due to their addictive properties. Controlled substances have a risk of developing a psychological, or physical dependence in people who use them.

Because of how Vivitrol works, it blocks the euphoric effects of opioid drugs and does cause addiction in people who use it.

 It does not cause a physical dependence and unlike other medications that treat Opioid Use Disorder, it does not sustain opioid dependence.

What Drug Class Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol belongs to a class of drugs called opioid antagonists. This means that it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, which are responsible for opioid addiction and have a role in alcohol dependence and block them.

It is also used to help people with Opioid Use Disorder to block the effects of opioid drugs. If someone consumes an opioid drug, whether that be opioid-containing medicines or opioid street drugs, it will not have an effect.

This makes it an effective treatment for opioid use disorder, as it discourages the use of opioids. It also helps to reduce the risk of relapse and minimizes opioid cravings.

Vivitrol can also be used in people who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder, as it diminishes the reward felt when consuming alcohol.

This helps reduce the cravings for alcohol in people who suffer from alcohol addiction, making it a common treatment of alcohol dependence.

 Why It Matters

Because Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, it does not cause physical or psychological dependence and is therefore not a controlled substance. For this reason, it is the preferred treatment option for many healthcare providers.

For people who have undergone opioid detoxification, Vivitrol treatment helps them block cravings for opioid drugs.

Other treatments for Opioid Use Disorder often use controlled substances such as opioid agonists, which activate opioid receptors.

 This means that although it helps people move away from stronger opioids, they still maintain a dependence on a prescription drug.

Vivitrol, or extended-release Naltrexone, is also preferred by some people who often travel across borders. This is because it is not a controlled substance, and makes some safety checks easier in some countries.

 Regulatory and Safety Considerations for Vivitrol

While Vivitrol is not a controlled substance, it does not mean that it comes without risks. It is important to know that you need a prescription from a healthcare professional before receiving the medication.

Before prescribing the medication, your healthcare provider will also make sure to run tests to check that the medication is safe for you to take.

They will also help start you on a comprehensive treatment plan that involves opioid detoxification to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms.

A healthcare professional will also talk to you about common side effects, as well as more severe adverse reactions such as:

  • Injection site reactions
  • Cold symptoms such as runny nose
  • Allergic reactions
  • The increased risk of overdose due to an increased sensitivity to opioids after treatment
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Risk of liver damage

Final Thoughts

Vivitrol is not a controlled substance. What this means is that it is not deemed to be at risk of abuse, and has no potential for physical or psychological dependence.

For people who have concerns about the addictive nature of other substance abuse treatments, Vivitrol may be the treatment of choice.

Although Vivitrol is not a controlled substance, that does not mean it can be used without risks.

If you are considering Vivitrol treatment for your dependence on opioid medication, or for the treatment of alcohol dependence, it is important to meet with a medical professional.

A medical professional can help guide you through the process of Vivitrol treatment.

They will also check for any underlying medical conditions, and talk you through any common side effects that you should be aware of, before starting treatment.


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