Taking Vivitrol with Opiates in Your System: How to Avoid the Risks


Vivitrol is a name-brand prescription drug that’s used to treat opioid and alcohol dependence. Patients who are already detoxified from opioids or alcohol can use it to help prevent opioid cravings and stay on their sober journey.

The way Vivitrol works is that it blocks opioid receptors in the brain. This means that opioids won’t give the same euphoric rush or ‘high’ if taken. However, taking opioids after being injected with Vivitrol can also be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Today, we’ll examine what happens if you take opiates while receiving Vivitrol treatment. We’ll discuss the risks and also give you some advice on how to take Vivitrol properly.

What Happens If You Take Opiates While On Vivitrol?

There are a few things that can happen if you take opiates while on Vivitrol. First of all, it’s important to understand that Vivitrol works by blocking the effects of opioids. This means opiates won’t have the same effect on your system.

Unfortunately, this also means that you’re more at risk of facing serious consequences, including the risk of overdose, or facing sudden opioid withdrawal. Let’s dive deeper into these issues:

Reduced effects of opiates

Vivitrol’s main active ingredient, naltrexone, is an opioid antagonist, which means it binds to opioid receptors in your brain and prevents them from being activated by opiates.

What this means is that you likely won’t feel anything if you take a small dose of opiates. But this doesn’t mean that you should be taking them if you can’t feel them. The problem arises when you attempt to overcome the block that Vivitrol gives, which can lead to overdose and other serious complications.

Another important thing to note is that the amount of Vivitrol in your system changes based on how long ago you had your most recent injection.

For example, in the days immediately following an injection, you’ll have a higher level of Vivitrol in your body than during the fourth week after your injection. This means that opiates might have more of an effect if taken nearer to the end of the four-week period.

Increased risk of overdose due to reduced tolerance

Another potential effect of taking opiates while on Vivitrol is an increased risk of opioid overdose. This is due to a few different reasons.

First, as discussed earlier, Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist. It binds to opioid receptors, preventing other opioids from affecting your brain. This means that you might take a higher dose to attempt to overcome the block if you feel them not working.

What this means, however, is that you’re at risk of flushing out the blocker and overwhelming your opioid receptors. While this will provide the ‘high,’ it also means you’re at a higher risk of overdosing on opioids.

Second, while taking Vivitrol, your body will be much more sensitive to opioid drugs than in the past.

This means you have a lower tolerance, so even a small dose might potentially cause you to overdose. Overdosing on opioids can lead to serious complications such as liver damage, organ failure, coma, and even death.

Potential for withdrawal symptoms

Finally, you’re more at risk of sudden opioid withdrawal if you take opiates while undergoing Vivitrol treatment.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal typically appear when you stop taking opioids after consistent use. This is why it’s important to not take any opioids for at least 7 to 14 days before starting Vivitrol treatment.

Your body will also be more sensitive to the effects of opioids, which means taking even a small amount might be enough to set off withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness and restlessness
  • Fever and sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Goosebumps, or shakiness
  • Hot or cold flushes
  • Muscle cramps, aches, or twitches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

If you think you might be experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms, you should speak to your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional immediately.

It’s also important to keep track of any side effects you experience while taking Vivitrol. Serious side effects such as allergic reactions, severe injection site reactions, or other severe reactions to the drug should be brought up with your healthcare provider immediately.

How To Start Vivitrol Properly

Vivitrol treatment should always be administered by a healthcare provider in a professional setting. The injection is typically delivered into the buttocks once a month. As the injection is extended release, you’ll have to have multiple appointments around four weeks apart.

Healthcare professionals recommend that you don’t take opioids for at least 7 to 14 days before starting Vivitrol treatment. This is because taking Vivitrol can cause sudden opioid withdrawal which might lead to other serious complications.

Before you start taking Vivitrol, you’ll need to do a naloxone challenge test to make sure you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms.

The naloxone challenge test involves an injection of a small amount of naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist similar to naltrexone.

If you experience any symptoms of opioid withdrawal after the naloxone challenge, you won’t be able to start Vivitrol unless otherwise decided by your healthcare provider. Instead, you might explore other options to achieve opioid detoxification.

Final Thoughts

Taking opiates while on Vivitrol treatment for opioid and alcohol dependence can put you in a dangerous situation.

While you might not feel the effects due to Vivitrol being an opioid blocker, you’re more likely to overdose or experience sudden opioid withdrawal symptoms.

These conditions can be potentially life-threatening. If you’ve taken opiates, anything from opioid street drugs to opioid-containing medicines, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.

Bring up any concerns with your doctor right away and talk with them about your next course of action.



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