Switching from Methadone to Vivitrol? What You Need to Know


If you are suffering from opioid dependence, you may have heard of the once-monthly injection called Vivitrol.

While both Methadone and Vivitrol are effective treatments for opioid use disorder, they both have different risks and benefits.

In this article, we will be discussing everything you need to know when switching from Methadone to Vivitrol treatment, and if it’s right for you.

Read on to find out more about:

  • What is Methadone 
  • What is Vivitrol
  • Which medication is best for Medication Assisted Treatment
  • If you can switch between Methadone and Vivitrol 
  • The potential risks of switching between Methadone and Vivitrol 
  • How to safely stench from Methadone to Vivitrol 

Let’s get into it!

What is Methadone?

Methadone is an FDA-approved medication used to help people with Opioid Use Disorder, or chronic pain.

Methadone is an opioid agonist. This means that it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, and helps people who suffer from opioid addiction to minimize withdrawal symptoms, opioid cravings and reduce pain.

Methadone is a long-acting opioid that helps to stabilize people who suffer from opioid dependence.

It also has less euphoric effects. Together, this helps people to come off other stronger opioids, and prevents opioid withdrawal symptoms and the risk of overdose from other opioid drugs.

Methadone can also be used instead of other opioid pain medicines and is considered by some to be safer than other medicines for pain.

What is Vivitrol (naltrexone)?

Vivitrol is another FDA-approved medication used for the treatment of Opioid use disorder. It can also be prescribed to people with alcohol dependence to help in their recovery.

It has no ability to reduce pain, unlike Methadone.

Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist. This means that it blocks opioid receptors in the brain. It can therefore be used in people who have undergone opioid detoxification to block the effects of opioids.

Vivitrol is the long-acting form of naltrexone and is given as a monthly injection. It helps to hinder people from using opioid drugs and relapsing, as it will have no effect. This helps people to control drug cravings.

The medication also helps to block the rewarding effects of alcohol use, supporting people who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder to maintain their sobriety.

Which Is Better For MAT Medication?

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) involves the use of medications, together with behavioral therapies to help people with substance use disorders to support their recovery.

MAT is often used in the context of opioid dependence.

While both Vivitrol and Methadone can be used to help people with opioid dependence, they differ significantly.

Usually, Methadone is preferred by people with active addiction. There is no need to detox from other opioids if you decide to take Methadone.

If you are reliant on high doses of opioids and are not ready for sobriety from opioid medications, this may be the better medication for you.

Additionally, if you suffer from chronic, severe pain, Methadone treatment may be better for you.

For people who are ready to stop using opioid medications altogether, Vivitrol may be the preferred choice for MAT.

The prescription injectable requires people to be free from opioids for a week before the treatment starts.

Because it blocks the effects of opioids, it is important that people have safely undergone detoxification, and do not suffer from pain conditions that cannot be treated any other way.

In general, Methadone may be the better choice for people suffering from intense pain, and for people who are not ready to stop using opioids altogether. Vivitrol is the preferred option for people who want to stop using opioids altogether.

Can You Switch From Methadone To Vivitrol?

Yes. In fact, once people have been on Methadone for a certain length of time, many wish to try to stop taking opioid-containing medicines altogether, and some may turn to Vivitrol treatment for help.

However, both medications work in different ways, and careful planning is required when switching from one medication to the other.

Switching from Methadone treatment to extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol) treatment requires working with many healthcare providers to achieve the best outcomes.

Switching from one medication to the other also requires weeks to months of careful planning, and cannot be done suddenly, due to the risk of adverse effects.

 Possible Risks

While many people choose to switch from one treatment to the other, there are some risks involved. These risks should be discussed with a healthcare provider, who can guide you in taking the necessary steps to minimize these risks.

Some of the possible risks and side effects include:

Sudden opioid withdrawal

Methadone mimics the actions of other opioid drugs while Vivitrol blocks the actions of all opioids. 

There is a risk of sudden and severe opioid withdrawal symptoms in people who do not gradually switch from one medication to the next.

Increased sensitivity to opioids and overdose risk

Because Vivitrol blocks the opioid effects, it often makes people more sensitive to the effects of opioids in the long term once they have stopped taking Vivitrol.

It also puts people at risk of opioid overdose if they have not safely tapered off Methadone, and try to take high doses of opioids to try and overcome the opioid block of Vivitrol.

Common side effects

There are some common side effects that people may experience when taking Vivitrol. This may include cold symptoms, muscle cramps/muscle aches, painful joints, and problems sleeping.

Psychological effects

Switching from opioid-containing medicines such as Methadone, to a treatment that involves blocking opioid effects, is a big step.

Some people will experience anxiety, irritability, or even depression, especially when they have a strong dependence on opioid medications.

It is therefore important to wean off Methadone and work with medical professionals to manage these symptoms.

How To Switch From Methadone To Vivitrol

Switching from Methadone to Vivitrol required working closely with medical professionals, to be safe.

  • Discuss switching with healthcare providers: If you are considering moving away from Methadone and switching to Vivitrol it is important to discuss this with a healthcare provider. They will ask about your treatment goals, provide you with advice, and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. You will also need to run some medical tests to check if Vivitrol is right for you, before getting a prescription.
  • Tapering off Methadone: To come off treatment with Methadone, you will need to slowly taper off the medication. This may take weeks to months.
  • Detoxification: Before taking Vivitrol it is important that you take a period of abstinence from Methadone and other opioid medicines for about a week. This may require supervisor opioid detoxification.
  • Naltrexone challenge: Before being given Vivitrol, a healthcare provider will likely give you a dose of oral Naltrexone, to check for sudden opioid withdrawal symptoms which can occur if you have opioids in your system.  
  • Psychological support: Throughout the whole process, it is important to work alongside counselors, therapists, and other support workers.

This will help your long-term recovery, and often provides the best support during opioid addiction treatment, no matter the medication that is being taken.

Final Thoughts

While both Vivitrol and Methadone are used as part of opioid treatment programs, they differ significantly in their actions.

Methadone is an opioid medication which helps to minimize cravings for opioids, along with withdrawal symptoms. It is a great medication for people who suffer from pain disorders.

Meanwhile, Vivitrol is not an opioid drug, and blocks the effects of opioids. It is often used to help prevent opioid relapse and is preferred by some people with opiate addictions who do not want to take opioid medications.

If you are considering switching from one medication to the other, it is important to discuss this with a healthcare professional who will help guide you through this part of your recovery journey.


Leave a Comment

Join our newsletter

Get Connected. Get Help. Join Us

The Curednation newsletter. We’ll send you unbiased and professional insights from our email list.

Plug in your Email


All Resources, to help your Recovery

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

View all Resources

Signs Of Marijuana Addiction: Signs to Look Out For

Marijuana addiction or marijuana use disorders affect millions of Americans each year. Although cannabis use in America is quite common, many ...

Can Suboxone Get You High? [Risks & Effects]

Suboxone treatment is highly unlikely to get a person high , especially if it’s given to people treated for ...

Zubsolv vs Suboxone: Which Medication is Right for You?

Zubslov and Suboxone are two types of medication-assisted treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the ...

How to Save Money on Vivitrol Copay

Vivitrol is a medication that is used to help people with substance use disorders such as Opioid dependence and ...

Vivitrol and Weight Loss: Answers to Your Questions

Most people know Vivitrol as the opioid receptor antagonist, which is used to help people with opioid dependence and ...

Your Guide to Identifying the Generic White Suboxone Pill

Suboxone is a drug that’s highly effective in the treatment of opioid use disorder, recommended as part of a ...

Certified, Proven and Private

Curednation: A Place to Recover

If you’re ready to take the first step on your road to recovery, we’re here for you. Please book an appointment with us today, and let’s get you back to where you want to be.

I’ve had a great experience with curednation. I was not sure about it first but I went ahead and started the treatment from them anyways and so far it’s been a dream. The doctors are very nice and helpful.


Dr. Carter is awesome I'm so excited to start my new journey and his team also very awesome and they make every visit welcoming.


Curednation is truly cares about the well-being of their Patients. I am really happy with the treatment I’ve received so far. A big thank you to the doctors.


I came across this service because it is more convenient to get virtual help. I had foot surgery and telemedicine is way better than finding a ride and not feel like an inconvenience to other people.


It was a great experience everybody was kind and very knowledgeable I look forward to our next meeting thank you


I have been doing the sessions for the last few weeks and it has been a life changer experience. I will say you have to do the work to get results. The more you do the better you will feel. They will educate you on ABC Medication, breathing technique and nutrition.