Monday March 27th 2017

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Does Vivitrol help with withdrawal?


A Vivitrol injection (main ingredient naltrexone) will not prevent withdrawal symptoms that may occur when you stop drinking alcohol or when you stop using opiate medications or street drugs. Further, you SHOULD NOT TAKE VIVITROL during withdrawal from opiates or opioids.

But what is withdrawal and how can Vivitrol help with opiate or alcohol addiction? We share the medical answers here. Then, we invite your questions in the comments section at the bottom of the page. In fact, we try to respond to all earnest questions with a personal and prompt reply.

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal occurs after you develop physical dependence on a psychoactive substance. More specifically, withdrawal is a specific set of physical symptoms and emotions you experience when you suddenly stop or drastically reduce your intake of the substance.

Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol every day suddenly stops drinking alcohol. The more you drink every day – or the higher your tolerance to alcohol – the more likely you are to develop more serious or severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. This is why alcohol withdrawal should ALWAYS BE MEDICALLY SUPERVISED, in order to prevent dangerous complications.

On the other hand, opiate withdrawal refers to the wide range of predictable and common symptoms that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing opiate or opioid drugs after heavy and prolonged use (several weeks or more).

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How can Vivitrol help with addiction?

Vivitrol (naltrexone injection) is used along with a combination of counseling, behavioral therapy and social support to help people remain abstinent from drinking or opiate drug use. Vivitrol should not be used to treat people who are still drinking alcohol, people who are still using opiates or street drugs, or people who have used opiates in the past 10 days.

This means that if you take opioids or opioid-containing medicines, you must stop taking them before you start receiving Vivitrol. To be effective, treatment with Vivitrol must be used with other alcohol or drug recovery programs such as counseling. Keep in mind that Vivitrol may not work for everyone and that your prescribing doctor will monitor its effects during monthly check-ups.

The main ingredient found in Vivitrol, naltrexone, is in a class of medications called “opiate antagonists”. It works by blocking activity in the limbic system, a part of the brain that is involved in alcohol and opiate dependence. Although the precise mechanism of action for naltrexone’s effect is unknown, reports from successfully treated people suggest the following three kinds of effects:

  1. Naltrexone can reduce the urge to drink or use opiates/opioids.
  2. Naltrexone can help people remain abstinent from alcohol or opiates/opioids.
  3. Naltrexone can interfere with the desire to continue drinking more or using opiates/opioids in the case of relapse.

Vivitrol prescription for addiction treatment

Your doctor will prescribe an exact dose of Vivitrol individualized to your needs. A nurse or other health provider will give you this medicine as a shot into your buttocks muscle. It is usually given every four (4) weeks. If you miss your scheduled dose, call to make another appointment as soon as possible.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Any prescription narcotic medicine, such as cough syrup, will not work well while you are being treated with Vivitrol. Do not drink alcohol while you are using it.

Who SHOULDN’T use Vivitrol in addiction treatment?

Do not take Vivitrol if you:

  1. are using or have a physical dependence on opioid-containing medicines or opiate street drugs
  2. are experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms
  3. are allergic to naltrexone or any of the ingredients in Vivitrol or the liquid used to mix Vivitrol (diluent)

Vivitrol help with withdrawal questions

Are you trying to find medications that can help ease withdrawal? Are you scared, nervous, or confused? Leave your questions or concerns in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Additionally, we invite you to leave a comment and share experiences of your own related to Vivitrol and withdrawal.

Reference Sources: FDA: VIVITROL
MedlinePlus: Alcohol withdrawal
NIAAA: FAQ 5.1. Naltrexone
SAMHSA: Naltrexone
Medlineplus: Naltrexone Injection
PubMed: Naltrexone (Injection)

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4 Responses to “Does Vivitrol help with withdrawal?
7:28 pm January 14th, 2016

I’m currently taking Methadone for opiate addiction. I’ve been in this treatment for over 2 years. My highest dose was 120mgs and now I’m working my way down and am at 50mgs. I don’t want to remain on methadone but I’ve had adverse effects on Suboxone and I’ve tried to detox before but went back on the Methadone to avoid using because the withdrawal was so incredibly painful and I would do just about anything to NEVER use heroin again. It destroyed my life in about every way you can imagine and I’m just beginning to mend all the relationships I damaged through my use. I was a senior in college with a 4.0gpa when I began using heroin, It was my ridiculous attempt to self medicate after I suffered the loss of my father and it not only caused me to withdrawal from school, my friends and my family, but also destroyed my marriage. In addition, I have just started to fix all the legal issues I have as a result of poor decision making.
My question is this: I have a deep desire to get off of Methadone and although I feel that my willpower is strong enough once the physical withdrawal is gone, I fear that this day will never come because it seems impossible to quit taking Methadone even with a slow decrease of the dose and my will. Is there anything that can ease the withdrawal symptoms for the 10-14 days recommended to wait between opiate use and beginning Vivitrol? Possibly a non-opiate drug. I know many have said that benzodiazepines can reduce the effect, but I have always feared them, as I know that they can be just as addictive as opiates!

3:01 pm December 1st, 2016

I’ve been off of opiates for 3 weeks is Vivitrol good for me I’m still feeling a little fatigued

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
12:30 pm December 6th, 2016

Hi Rodney. I suggest that you speak with your doctor about this.

6:28 pm January 16th, 2017

I feel I’m in the same boat as Sarah. I want off Methadone. The side effects are ruining my life. When I was using, it felt i was less of a burden to friends and family, and better liked. Opiates worked for my depression, and lack of energy and self confidence at work. Of corse until they didn’t. Now I feel stuck, methadone is not improving my life and alcohol keeps creeping in. I want to know if Vivitrol can help with these things? The Alcohol? I’m getting fed up with losing my memory on methadone.

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