How Effective is Vivitrol for Opioid Use Disorder?


If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid use disorder, there is a high chance that Vivitrol is prescribed.

As one of the leading treatments for opioid dependence and abuse, Vivitrol can be a life-changing and life-saving medication for some.

 Whether you’re just starting out on your recovery journey, or you have been taking medication for a while, it is important that you educate yourself about the medications you have been prescribed.

We have put together this guide regarding Vivitrol for opioid use disorder to give you all the information you need to know. We will cover:

  • The Role of Vivitrol in Treating Opioid Use Disorder
  • Who Is Eligible for Taking Vivitrol?
  • Does Vivitrol Work?
  • Side Effects of Vivitrol

 Let’s get into it!

The Role of Vivitrol in Treating Opioid Use Disorder

Vivitrol is one of the most widely used medications used to treat opioid dependence and alcohol dependence.

It is an extended-release form of naltrexone and is typically administered via an injection.

Naltrexone works as an opioid antagonist, which means it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and prevents the patient from feeling any of the euphoric effects of opioids, helps to reduce opioid cravings, and reduces the risk of opioid overdose.

Unlike other medications used to treat opioid dependency, Vivitrol does not bear any risk of overdose, misuse, or further addiction, as it does not induce the patient to build up any sort of tolerance.

Vivitrol’s role in the treatment of opioid use disorder is as a medication that prevents the patient from relapsing once an opioid detoxification has occurred.

Once injected with the medication, naltrexone will slowly be released into the body over a month, helping to reduce cravings and prevent relapse from occurring.

Who Is Eligible for Taking Vivitrol?

Unfortunately, Vivitrol cannot be taken by everyone, which is one of the drawbacks of the medication.

It is important that you only take Vivitrol under the guise of a licensed healthcare provider to ensure that you are eligible and ready for the medication.

 The most important factor that decides eligibility is whether you are currently taking opioids or not.

Vivitrol cannot be taken alongside opioids or any opioid-containing medications, and therefore you are only eligible for the medication once you have completed an opioid detoxification.  

This means spending 7-10 days without taking any opioid medications at all allowing your body to detox its system of any drugs and alcohol and eliminating any physical dependence.

If you do not comply with this, you run the risk of developing sudden opioid withdrawal, which can be extremely detrimental to your health.

 It is also recommended that you take Vivitrol while in an opioid abuse or dependence treatment plan.

While the medication is highly effective, it cannot completely cure an opioid addiction.

You need to be receiving therapy or some other sort of support as a part of a treatment program in order to be fully eligible to take Vivitrol.

Does Vivitrol Work?

 he million-dollar question is whether Vivitrol actually works.

The answer is yes, according to many studies surrounding the drug. In fact, the Vivitrol injection has been shown to be just as effective at helping to treat dependence on opioids as its main competitor, Subuxone.

As it is an opioid antagonist, Vivitrol alters your brain chemicals to help reduce opioid cravings, allowing the patient to beat their dependency.

Additional studies have shown the drug to be far superior to a placebo pill or injection, helping more people to stay off opioids once they have completed the detoxification process.

The bottom line is that patients who take Vivitrol are less likely to relapse on opioids, making a full recovery more likely and helping them to gain their lives back.

However, there is a catch when it comes to Vivitrol working. A patient cannot just simply take the medication and expect their dependency to be fixed.

They must take the medication in conjunction with behavioral therapy or counseling. Without therapy and a drug recovery program, Vivitrol is not nearly as effective at helping to treat opioid use disorder.

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Like most medications, Vivitrol does come with some side effects.

Common and less serious side effects include headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, cold symptoms, dark urine, joint pain, cold flushes, muscle cramps, a runny nose, back pain, muscle twitches, and muscle aches.

While these side effects can be inconvenient, they are common and are typically not a major cause for concern.

However, we still recommend checking in with your healthcare provider should you experience any of these symptoms.

Vivitrol may also induce some more serious side effects.

These include a severe reaction at the injection site reaction, hypersensitivity or an allergic reaction ( this is more common in those with a naltrexone allergy), and depressive or suicidal thoughts.

If you experience any of these side effects, you must contact your healthcare provider immediately and seek medical advice.

The Bottom Line

When used correctly, Vivitrol can be the key to helping you recover from opioid abuse and claim your life back.

It is a crucial part of the recovery process, as it helps to prevent opioid effects and cravings, which therefore aids in the prevention of relapse.

However, it is important that you only take Vivitrol as prescribed by a licensed healthcare professional.

This means that any side effects you experience can be correctly dealt with, and your progress is monitored in the appropriate way.

Additionally, you must take Vivitrol alongside a behavioral treatment program in order to ensure you receive the full benefits of the medication.

By taking Vivitrol correctly and sticking to your treatment program, you can beat your opioid dependency and get yourself back on track.


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