Can Vivitrol® help Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorder?

Patient reviewing medication for opioid use disorder treatment

The medication Vivitrol® is a name-brand formulation of a drug called naltrexone which the FDA has approved to treat alcohol and opioid addictions. It’s effective in helping people prevent relapse as they work through treatment while also significantly reducing cravings, which can improve a patient’s chances of achieving long-lasting recovery.

How is Vivitrol® Administered?

Vivitrol® is prescribed and given to patients as an injection once a month, making it an appealing treatment option for those who don’t want to make daily visits to a methadone clinic or may be forgetful and miss doses of their take-home prescribed medication. It’s also a preferable option for those who don’t want to use medicines that are full opioids or include only a partial-agonist opioid, leaving room for potential misuse of a controlled substance. This also makes Vivitrol® helpful for people who suffered from chronic relapse while taking other treatment medications.

Unlike those taking Suboxone® or methadone, patients prescribed Vivitrol® must abstain from opioid use for 7 to 10 days before taking their first dose. If not, the powerful blocking ability of naltrexone will cause severe withdrawal symptoms. This can be achieved through monitored detox or personal abstinence.

While opioid withdrawals are largely non-fatal unless other medical conditions are present, alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens, can be deadly. Patients are discouraged from stopping their alcohol use abruptly to prevent possible life-threatening complications.

How Effective is Vivitrol®?

A study found that individuals with alcohol addiction treated with Vivitrol® along with substance use counseling had a 25% reduction in heavy drinking days. The majority of people in the study spent more time abstinent from substance use and had lower relapse rates as well. Another study found that cravings significantly reduced while taking Vivitrol® for both opioids and alcohol. While some patients relapsed upon finishing their treatment, the majority remained in recovery.

Furthermore, another study conducted to test the effectiveness of Vivitrol® in treating prison inmates with opioid use disorder found that it significantly improved their chances of recovery after release. The study results suggest that implementing Vivitrol® as part of prison medication-assisted treatment could reduce recidivism while discouraging inmates from returning to a life of drug-related crime.

Middlesex Recovery is proud to provide its local communities with effective and safe substance use disorder treatment. A team of specialized medical providers, nursing staff, and substance use counselors is dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment for those struggling with substance use disorder who wish to live life in long-lasting recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs, call or message us today.