Does Vivitrol help with withdrawal?

No. Vivitrol injections do not prevent withdrawal symptoms that may occur when you stop drinking alcohol or using opiates/opioids. More on how Vivitrol works to treat symptoms related to addiction here.

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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).

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)
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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  1. Is it true that Vivitrol sales reps push your product on drug court judges and actively work to block the use of other opiod medications? In the end it’s all about everyone’s favorite drug, the dollar.

  2. Hi I am currently on suboxone but I’m tired of having to take something everyday I want to take the shot but I have horrible anxiety which I take medication for and I’m terrified of stopping the suboxone long enough to get the shot. How many days do I have to go without it and do you have any suggestions for the time without suboxone? I’m determined to get my life back!!

  3. My doctor started me on naloxene on Monday may 1, in pill form, after I told him I used opiates just the day before. I took it orally from mon-fri and received my injection on Friday may 5. I had a horrible absolutely treacherous reaction the first 4 days. The nurse called me Thursday and asked me how I was doing and if I was having an anniversary action because she was looking at the The nurse called me Thursday and asked me how I was doing and if I was taking the medication and if I was having adverse reactions to it. (because she was looking at the results of my urine screening) they prescribed clondine and 300 mg gabapentin 3x a day. It’s now been 12 days since my shot and I have been opiate free since may 1. The major withdrawal symptoms went away route after May 7 and I sort of feel like a functional young but the last four days I have been having pens and needles shooting through my feet in random places all through my body and at random . Also patches of skin catch on fire at random. Like right now/ it’s the back of my head and my right ear. And needles through my left pinky toe. It almost feels like I’m having withdrawals again but I haven’t used anything in 17 days. Also I have been neasuated a lot and dizzy (also at random ). My urine is also darker than normal. Has anyone ever heard or experience this ?

  4. I’ve had my vivitrol injection as of four days ago now and feel absolutely awful. Worse than the original withdraw period prior to taking the shot. I was heroin free for 9 days prior to the shot. What should I do?

    1. Hi Lea. I’d suggest you go to see your doctor as soon as possible.

      Anyone who receives a Vivitrol injection must not use any type of opioid for at least 7 to 14 days before receiving the injection. If your body isn’t completely rid of all traces of opioids, it may cause you to suddenly have symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Sudden opioid withdrawal can be severe, and you may need to go to the hospital.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

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