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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