Vivitrol is an addiction treatment medication that is injected into the body on a monthly basis. Its effects last about a month. A new injection is then needed to keep a steady state of the medication in the body.
Vivitrol (naltrexone) can help people recover from opioid and alcohol abuse. It provides people with an alternative treatment if they decide they do not want to use methadone or buprenorphine to deal with misuse of opioids.
As mentioned by SAMHSA, naltrexone is available as a tablet. Vivitrol is an injectable form of the medication.
Naltrexone, the generic medication in Vivitrol, is classified as an opioid antagonist. This means it can block the effects of opioids and can even stop you from craving them altogether.
SAMHSA reports that it is available in doses of 50 mg when taken as a tablet, but this is through other brands such as ReVia. The injectable form of naltrexone, Vivitrol is administered into the muscles and contains a dose of 380 mg. This injection is administered once per month.
It is a prescription medication that is most effective when used as part of a treatment program to stop drug use. The program should also include therapy, peer group participation, and other activities that support recovery.
How Vivitrol Works
Those who want to use Vivitrol must detox for at least seven to 10 days in order for it to be effective and prevent withdrawal from opioid substances. If you have been using methadone for three to four weeks and want to switch to Vivitrol, you should detox for at least 14 days.
According to SAMHSA, Vivitrol binds to opioid receptors in your brain, so it can then block the effects of opioid medications, heroin, codeine, and morphine. The potential for misuse of Vivitrol has not been reported.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that if you take Vivitrol, you should keep your appointments with your physician and therapist.
Vivitrol reduces cravings, and you become more sensitive to the effects of opioids.
- If you relapse and take as much of an opioid as you did in the past, you may overdose.
- You may also be more prone to feeling the effects of opioids if you stop your treatment.
- You should not use alcohol or opioids while also using Vivitrol because this could cause dangerous side effects that could prove fatal.
You may also experience side effects from Vivitrol, such as:
- Pneumonia caused by allergic reactions
- Depression and thoughts of self-harm
- Reactions at the injection site
- Changes to your appetite
- Nausea after your first injection, though it is less common with further injections
In addition to reducing the effect of opioids in your body, you may not be able to use opioid-based medicines for cough or diarrhea. Talk to your doctor about alternatives in case you end up needing such medication.
How Vivitrol is Administered
SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol Series (TIP) mentions that Vivitrol is packed along with a special needle and must only be administered with that syringe every four weeks.
It was created to be injected monthly, so people could have a better opportunity to succeed in their recovery from opioid or alcohol abuse.
Doctors will conduct tests to make sure you are eligible for Vivitrol use.
These Tests May Include:
- Checking your liver’s health
- Determining whether or not you may need opioid medication in the next 30 days
- Testing your body for the presence of other substances
How Long Vivitrol Stays in Your System
There are several factors that determine how long Vivitrol remains in your system. Vivitrol is an injectable form of naltrexone, but the tablet form of naltrexone could remain in your system for a different amount of time.
In addition, your metabolism, weight, age, gender, medical history, and even levels of exercise could have an effect on how long Vivitrol stays in your system.
Naltrexone that is taken as a daily pill is metabolized by the liver. Vivitrol is injected and does not go through this process to remain in the body.
Instead, the injectable form of Vivitrol is inserted into the gluteus. SAMHSA’s TIP Series mentions that you can expect the following timeline for Vivitrol’s effects:
- Two hours after injection: You can expect naltrexone (the active ingredient in Vivitrol) to reach its first peak.
- Two to three days after injection: Levels of the medication will peak again.
- Seven days after injection: Naltrexone levels start to diminish.
After this period, you can expect naltrexone levels in your body to stay at a constant level until you get your next dose. You can reasonably expect the effects of Vivitrol to last for a month.
Risk of Overdose
It is possible to overdose on naltrexone. This is less of a risk when using Vivitrol because doctors who provide this treatment know that it should only be used every four weeks. More frequent dosing of Vivitrol is not recommended.
Using Vivitrol on teens and children is also not recommended.
The following are symptoms of naltrexone overdose to look out for:
- Vomiting and diarrhea that is severe
- Blurred vision
If you suspect that your dose of Vivitrol is too high, discuss this with your doctor and seek medical help if necessary.