Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a practice that utilizes a combination of certain medications along with behavioral therapy and counseling to treat substance use disorders. The objective is a holistic treatment approach that increases the chances for successful treatment and recovery. MAT is primarily used to treat opioid addiction and alcohol addiction. Certain medications can help alleviate drug cravings and provide a more comfortable transition experience. One MAT option is called Vivitrol. Despite the benefits, many people wonder if Vivitrol addiction is possible. This question is common because some MAT medications can become addictive.
Vivitrol is a prescription medication used to treat opioid and alcohol addiction. The generic name is naltrexone. Vivitrol is a monthly version of naltrexone that is administered by a medical professional. The medication is long-lasting and is an extended-release drug. There are other versions of naltrexone that can be taken orally once a day at home. For some, Vivitrol is easier because they don’t have to remember to use it every day. Vivitrol is classified as an opioid antagonist. It binds to opioid receptors, but there is no dopamine release associated with its use. Therefore, unlike prescription opioids, Vivitrol doesn’t result in a high. Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors, so if someone were to relapse on opioids while taking the medication, they wouldn’t feel the desired effects. Nonetheless, other adverse effects such as respiratory depression can still occur.
Vivitrol isn’t intended to be used on its own and it’s not a cure for addiction. Rather, it is a helpful treatment option when it is used as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program. Vivitrol can help eliminate some of the drug cravings and mitigate the risk of relapse. This allows a person to focus more on their counseling and their recovery.
To use Vivitrol, a person has to first fully detox from opioids. If someone has opioids in their system when they use this medication, they could go into immediate withdrawal. Similarly to opioids, Vivitrol blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol. Vivitrol can also help block alcohol cravings for people who are dependent.
While Vivitrol has benefits, it does have potential risks as well. The primary risk is an opioid overdose. Since Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids, including pain medications and heroin, some people have reportedly tried to overcome the blocking effects with using high doses of opioids. This can easily lead to a fatal overdose. Following a period of abstaining from opioids, people are more sensitive to lower amounts of the drugs.
Vivitrol comes as an injectable suspension. It’s given through an intramuscular injection. Vivitrol is available in only one dose, which is 380 mg. Vivitrol has to be administered by a healthcare professional in a gluteal injection which is 4 mL. Once the medication is given, Vivitrol is released continuously over its effective time. Typically, a patient will receive the 380 mg dose of Vivitrol every four weeks. Before receiving a Vivitrol injection, the patient should be opioid-free for at least 7 to 10 days.
There has been some controversy surrounding MAT options. Some of the drugs used to help treat opioid addiction and dependence become habit-forming themselves. One example is methadone. People start taking methadone as they’re trying to stop using other opioids. Unfortunately, they may actually develop a dependence or addiction to the methadone itself. Vivitrol, on the other hand, is not known to be addictive at all. Vivitrol doesn’t create a dopamine or reward response in the brain. Instead, it simply blocks the effects of opioids and reduces cravings.
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.