Vivitrol is an effective drug used in medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder as well as alcohol addiction. This medication can help you to stop drinking or stop using opioids and stay committed to your recovery, but there may be situations in which you want to know how to reverse Vivitrol. Learn all about the Vivitrol shot, as well as information about treatment for opioid and alcohol misuse, below.
What Is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is an injectable form of the medication naltrexone, and it is used to treat both opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. It is an extended intramuscular injection, meaning that it is taken via a shot, most often given in the buttocks, and its effects are long-lasting. Vivitrol is used in medication assisted treatment for both alcohol and opioid addiction, and many people using this medication also participate in counseling and other behavioral interventions to help them stay in recovery.
How Does Vivitrol Work?
Vivitrol works as an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the effects of opioids. Opioids produce euphoric, sedative, and pain-relieving effects. By acting as an opioid blocker, Vivitrol stops these effects from happening. It binds to the body’s opioid receptors and also blocks opioid cravings.
Vivitrol works for alcohol misuse the same way that it works for treating opioid addiction. When people consume alcohol, the body releases endorphins, which have a pleasurable effect. By acting as an opioid blocker, Vivitrol stops this rewarding effect of alcohol consumption. Vivitrol is effective against alcohol use disorder, because drinking causes the release of endogenous, or naturally occurring, opioids, which the medication is also able to block.
Common Side Effects of Vivitrol
Vivitrol is beneficial for treating drug and alcohol misuse, but that does not mean it is without side effects. The following side effects are common with the Vivitrol shot:
- Muscle cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint pain
- Reduced appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Cold Symptoms
Serious but rare side effects include depression, liver damage, pneumonia, severe allergic reactions, and pain or swelling at the injection site.
Since the active ingredient in Vivitrol is naltrexone, understanding the Vivitrol timeline requires taking a look at the pharmacology of naltrexone. As experts explain, Vivitrol should not be started until someone has been opioid free for 7 to 10 days, because it will send a person into opioid withdrawal if they still have these drugs in their system.
Once Vivitrol is given as an injection, levels of the medication peak after two hours, and then again 2-3 days later. About 14 days after a dose of the medication, its levels in the body begin to decline, but it can be detected in the body for over a month. Given that Vivitrol stays in the body for so long, it is given as an injection once per month. You can expect Vivitrol to block opioids for a month, but concentrations of the medication do decline toward the end of the month.