Vivitrol is a relatively new drug used to treat opiate addiction and alcoholism. The medication is an injection form of Naltrexone and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to treat alcoholism. Later, in October of 2010, the drug was then approved to treat opiate addiction. Since then, it has saved a number of lives and has kept many men and women out of the destructive cycle of addiction.
Vivitrol is an extended-release injectable version of Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid blocker that is also used as a way to medically treat opiate addiction. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using Naltrexone. It does not have any addictive properties and there’s no addiction to Naltrexone that develops. However, it has several disadvantages. It does not stop cravings making it difficult to continue to use Naltrexone as a regular treatment method. The use of this treatment drug cannot begin until an individual has stopped using painkillers/heroin for at least two weeks, which is difficult for most addicts to do. Lastly, if an individual relapses while using Naltrexone, there is a high risk of overdose and death.
Despite the above cautions, there have been some incredible successes with Naltrexone. And because of this the injectable of the drug was created. The injection is given once per month and helps to minimize the effects of opiates or alcohol. Vivitrol is an antagonist, meaning it works by binding with and blocking the receptor sites in the brain that would normally be affected by opiates or alcohol. An antagonist is defined as a substance that interferes with or inhibits the physiological action of another. In other words, in drug detox a medication can be prescribed that can inhibit the effects of withdrawal. And this is precisely the case with Vivitrol when it interacts with alcohol or opiates in the body.
The advantage of Vivitrol over Naltrexone is that it is an injection whereas Naltrexone is a daily dose that is self-administered. Naltrexone can be easy to forget to take, disrupting the effect of the medication. However, with Vivitrol because it is administered by a professional, doctors can monitor the progress of a recovering addict. And in this way, keep them on track with taking their prescribed medication. This also keeps someone from feeling the effects of withdrawal and prevents relapses from occurring.
It’s clear that Vivitrol has many advantages but it also has disadvantages. If you’re struggling with an alcohol or opiate addiction, be sure to consult with a physician or mental health provider before making a final decision. It could in fact be the medication that best supports your sobriety. If you and your doctor decide to use Vivitrol, it should be used in conjunction with formal treatment for recovery, which may also include therapy, support groups, and 12-step meetings.
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