Monday September 26th 2016

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Does Vivitrol get you high?

No, you do not get high on Vivitrol.

As as a prescription medication approved by the FDA, this injectable form of naltrexone, administered once a month helps people who are alcohol or narcotic drug addicts maintain a healthy, clean, and sober life.

More here on the effects of Vivitrol, how it works, and what it does to the brain and body. Plus, we describe how Vivitrol can help you in the treatment alcoholism or drug addiction. Then, we invite your questions, comments, or feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Vivitrol chemistry and use: What’s in Vivitrol?

Vivitrol contains naltrexone, which is a prescription medication that has been proven effective in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. It works by addressing cravings, and thus significantly decreases the chances for relapse. What’s even better, Vivitrol is an injectable form of naltrexone and is recommended to be taken as a shot, given by a doctor or a nurse once every month. So, recovering alcoholics or addicts don’t have to remember to take a pill every day and they can focus on positive changes in life and progress in recovery.

How does Vivitrol work in the brain?

Giving up alcohol or narcotic drugs like heroin, oxycodone, or hydrocodone isn’t easy ]. Getting sober takes determination and support, while staying sober requires long term therapy, dedication and significant changes in life. To better understand how Vivitrol works, you first need to know how alcohol and opiate/opioid drugs affect brain chemistry.

These substances stimulate the release of chemical messengers or neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and opioid peptides. That’s how they can produce feelings of pleasure and well-being, the chemical high. But over time, the intensity of the high decreases if the body becomes tolerant to the drug of choice…leading you to use or drink more to get high. Furthermore, you can also develop drug dependence, which is characterized by the presence of highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms any time you lower or decrease drug dosage.

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When Vivitrol is prescribed and taken regularly, the medication can help recovering addicts and alcoholics deal with cravings by blocking the chemical responses that make alcohol rewarding in the first place. One major plus is that Vivitrol addictive liability is zero. Clinical studies have shown that Vivitrol, as an opioid antagonist medication, reduces alcohol cravings and alcohol consumption in alcohol-dependent individuals. By making alcohol less desirable, Vivitrol can help patients avoid drinking or using drugs and lower the risk of relapse.

Vivitrol and central nervous system effects

Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist. It attenuates or completely blocks, reversibly, the subjective effects of alcohol and opioids/opiate drugs. The naltrexone in Vivitrol blocks opioid effects and prevents alcohol cravings by binding to opioid receptors.

Mixing Vivitrol with other substances

When using Vivitrol, the administration of other substances may change the way this medication works and increase the risk for adverse and unwanted side effects. Make sure your doctor is aware of all other prescription or illicit drugs you may be using. For example, Vivitrol may interact with:

  • blood thinners
  • cough medicines
  • diarrhea medications
  • narcotics or opioid analgesics (codeine, hydrocodone, tramadol, meptazinol, morphine, buprenorphine, dipipanone, diamorphine, methadone, oxycodone, pentazocine, pethidine)

Vivitrol for alcoholism and drug addiction

Vivitrol does not work as some other treatments for substance abuse. For example, it does not make patients sick if they drink any amount of alcohol. Instead, Vivitrol blocks the effects of alcohol or opiate drugs and takes away the pleasure people experience if they do drink or use drugs. Taking away the desire and cravings for drinking alcohol gives patients the needed time to focus on addiction treatment and make positive life changes that can help them stay sober.

However, Vivitrol used for alcohol dependence is not a magical cure for alcoholism. While successful for most patients, there are those who may not be eligible for Vivitrol treatment. Additionally, there are certain risks and unwanted effects of using this medicine, and to help you decide we compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages to using Vivitrol for alcohol dependence treatment.

+ PRO’s

  1. Blood levels of naltrexone are kept more stable with Vivitrol
  2. Lowers risk of not taking medication and going back to drinking/drugging
  3. More convenient for patients attending intensive rehab program
  4. When injected once monthly, Vivitrol remains effective for several weeks
  5. You don’t have to motivate yourself to take it on daily basis

– CON’s

  1. Can be more expensive than oral forms of naltrexone
  2. May cause severe skin reactions (pain, blisters, wounds, swelling, redness, tissue death)
  3. May lead to unintentional and fatal opioid overdose (it blocks their effects)
  4. Not safe for opiate dependent people and patients taking prescription opioids (painkillers)
  5. Not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women
  6. You can develop liver damage if more that recommended dose is injected

Questions about Vivitrol

If you or a loved one are facing a problem with drinking or narcotic drug addiction, Vivitrol may be the medicine that can help you get and stay sober. Please contact us through the comments section below if you have any addiction questions about Vivitrol treatment for alcoholics and addicts. We are happy to try to provide a personal and prompt response to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources:  PubMed Health: Naltrexone (injection)
PubChem: Naltrexone
FDA: Vivitrol-Medication Guide
MedlinePlus: Naltexone Injection
OASAS: Vivitrol

Photo credit: Martin Fisch

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