Does Vivitrol help with cravings?

Yes, Vivitrol helps with cravings for alcohol and opiates/opioids. More on how Vivitrol (naltrexone) works in the body here.

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Yes,  Vivitrol (naltrexone) is an opiate receptor antagonist that blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol or opioids and reduces cravings.

More here on what a craving actually is and how Vivitrol is used to help get rid of it. We also cover how you can get a prescription for Vivitrol and who should or shouldn’t use it for treating cravings. We invite your questions about Vivitrol at the end.

What is a craving?

A “craving” is defined as an intense desire and perceived need for a psychoactive substance like alcohol or opiates. A craving is an overwhelming emotional experience that can direct your physical and mental focus to wanting and seeking a drug. In fact, cravings are a state of mind when an overwhelming desire develops for use of these drugs.

Neurochemical alterations caused by chronic exposure to addictive agents form the biological basis of drug/alcohol cravings. Cravings narrow attention so that current desire, thoughts, and urges are given extra validation and intensity, making future goals or plans seem less consequential.

It is important to have an appropriate treatment so you can cope with cravings. The memory of the positively rewarding effects of drugs does not need to control you. Under intense craving, addicts make highly distorted choices. However, cravings can be treated so that you can begin to hardwire your natural motivational systems to re-shift focus and priorities.

How can Vivitrol help with cravings?

The main ingredient found in Vivitrol is called naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opiate receptor antagonist that blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol or opioid drugs and reduces cravings. While the exact mechanism of action is not understood, experts believe that its effects are mediated through interactions between the endogenous opioid system and dopamine systems, specifically through antagonism of the opioid receptors. Basically, when you take Vivitrol and try to drink or use opiate/opioid drugs, you don’t feel euphoric; the high is simply not there.

Vivitrol prescription for cravings

Vivitrol is FDA approved for treatment of opioid or alcohol dependence. Vivitrol can be prescribed by any individual who is licensed to prescribe medicine such as a physician, doctor of osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner. Your doctor will prescribe the exact dose to help your treatment on cravings.

Vivitrol is injected by a healthcare provider, about one (1) time each month. It is given as an injection into a muscle in the buttox. After Vivitrol is injected, Vivitrol stays in the system and lasts for a month and it cannot be removed from the body. To be effective, treatment with Vivitrol must be used in combination with other addiction recovery programs such as psychological counseling, behavioral therapy, and support group attendance.If you miss your appointment for your Vivitrol injection, schedule another
appointment as soon as possible.

Who CAN use Vivitrol for cravings help?

Vivitrol is not addictive and is appropriate for any person who can achieve abstinence long enough for naltrexone induction. In fact, anyone taking Vivitrol must be opioid-free and not have signs of significant liver or kidney disease. Mainly, Vivitrol can be help people who:

  1. Are diagnosed with alcohol-dependence and/or opioid dependence have been off all opioids for a minimum of 7 – 10 days
  2. Want to use this medication as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan
  3. Understand that this medication does not take the place of psychological treatment

Who SHOULDN’T use Vivitrol in cravings treatment?

While this medication may not be suitable for every patient suffering from alcohol and/or opiate dependence, it helps medical professionals by offering yet another alternative to complement ongoing support and treatment. Those who should not use Vivitrol include:

  1. People that are taking opioid medications
  2. People that are in opioid withdrawal or dependent on opioids
  3. Anyone allergic to naltrexone,carboxymethycellulose, polysorbate or polylactide-co-glycolide (PLG)
  4. People diagnosed with acute or severe liver or kidney disease
  5. Pregnant women or nursing mothers

Note here that this medication has not been studied in the geriatric or pediatric population, nor in those younger than 18 years of age. Furthermore, the medication guide for Vivitrol states that you should not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how Vivitrol affects you. Vivitrol may make you feel dizzy and sleepy.

Vivitrol help with cravings questions

Still have question about Vivitrol and how it can help with cravings? Please send us your questions or experiences in the comments section below and we will try to provide answers to your questions promptly.

Reference Sources: Psychology Today: Why cravings occur
OASAS NY: Vivitrol
NIAAA: Treatment Implications: Using Neuroscience to Guide the Development of New Pharmacotherapies for Alcoholism
FDA: Vivitrol
SAMHSA: Naltrexone
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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