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Learn About Vivitrol


Opioid and/or Alcohol dependence can be very challenging, but you are not alone. After opioid detoxification if applicable, VIVITROL and counseling may help prevent relapse to opioid dependence and/or alcohol dependence. 


Vivitrol is a brand-name injectable form of Naltrexone that can be used to help patients stay sober while recovering from an opioid or alcohol addiction. Other Naltrexone formulations are available as oral tablets, but Vivitrol is given as an intramuscular injection once a month.

Before you start taking VIVITROL, you must stop consuming opioids. VIVITROL must be used in conjunction with other alcohol or drug treatment programs, such as counseling, to be effective. VIVITROL may not be suitable for all people. VIVITROL is not known to be safe or effective in children.

How Does VIVITROL Work?

Naltrexone, in all of its forms, works by preventing the euphoria and sedation that central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol and opioids, can generate. Instead of intoxicating drugs, the medicine binds to opioid receptor sites and acts as an opioid antagonist, staying there for a long period. When someone who is taking naltrexone as recommended relapses, the medicine will not bind to opioid receptor sites, therefore there will be no high associated with consuming the substance after detox.

Who Should not Receive VIVITROL?

Do not receive VIVITROL if you:

  • use opioid-containing prescriptions or opioid street narcotics like heroin, or have a physical dependence on them. Your healthcare provider may give you a short injection of naloxone to see if you have a physical reliance on opioid-containing medicines or street narcotics. This is called a “naloxone challenge test.” Do not start VIVITROL treatment if you have opioid withdrawal symptoms after the naloxone challenge test. After you’ve stopped taking opioids, your healthcare professional may run another test to check if it’s safe to start VIVITROL.
  • are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from opioids. When you quit taking opioid-containing pharmaceuticals or opioid street drugs after a long period of use, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety, sleeplessness, yawning, fever, sweating, tearful eyes, runny nose, goosebumps, shakiness, hot or cold flushes, muscle aches, muscle twitching, restlessness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps are all symptoms of opiate withdrawal.
  • are allergic to naltrexone or any of the ingredients in VIVITROL or the liquid used to mix VIVITROL (diluent). See the medication guide for the full list of ingredients.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider before Receiving VIVITROL?

Before you receive VIVITROL, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • suffer from liver disease, use or abuse illegal substances on the street, suffer from hemophilia or other blood disorders, suffer from kidney disease, or suffer from any other medical ailment.
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It’s unclear whether VIVITROL will harm your unborn child.
  • you are a breastfeeding mother. It is unknown whether VIVITROL goes into your breastmilk and, if so, whether it will harmful to your infant. The active ingredient in VIVITROL is the same as the active ingredient in Naltrexone pills taken by mouth. Tablets of Naltrexone have been shown to enter into breastmilk. Consult your doctor about whether you should breastfeed or use VIVITROL. It’s not a good idea to do both.
  • Tell your doctor about all of your medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Tell your doctor if you’re using any opioid-containing pain relievers, cough or cold drugs, or diarrhea medicine.
  • If you are being treated for alcoholism but also use or are addicted to opioid-containing prescriptions or opioid street drugs, you should alert your healthcare provider before beginning VIVITROL treatment to avoid experiencing rapid opioid withdrawal symptoms.

What are Other Possible Serious Side Effects of VIVITROL?

VIVITROL has a number of potentially dangerous adverse effects, including:

  • Depression: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior sometimes result from the use of this medication. Inform your relatives, friends, or someone you trust that you are taking VIVITROL.
  • Pneumonia: A kind of pneumonia induced by an allergic reaction has been seen in some VIVITROL patients. If this happens to you, you may need to go to the hospital for treatment.
  • Severe allergic reactions: Serious adverse reactions can occur during or shortly after a VIVITROL injection. If you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare practitioner or seek medical attention right away:
    • skin rash
    • swelling of your face, eyes, mouth, or tongue
    • trouble breathing, wheezing, or coughing
    • chest pain
    • dizziness or faintness

Vivitrol injections are used to prevent relapse in people who have become addicted to opioids and then stopped taking them. Naltrexone can help people to avoid feeling the desire to take opioids.

Vivitrol injection is also used to treat alcoholism by decreasing the desire to consume alcohol. This may assist someone in drinking less or refraining from drinking entirely. Patients should not consume alcohol before receiving their first naltrexone injection.

Vivitrol is not a long-term solution for drug or alcohol addiction.