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Does Vivitrol Work for Alcohol Addiction?

woman with blue hair wonders does vivitrol work for alcohol addiction

Medications can play an important role in helping people recover from addiction. A Vivitrol therapy program supports patients as they maintain abstinence from alcohol or opioids. Vivitrol is not a cure for alcohol use disorder, but when used with other evidence-based therapies, it can increase a patient’s chance of long-term sobriety.

If you’d like to learn more about Vivitrol and other medication-assisted therapy programs, call Woodland Recovery Center today at 662.222.2989.

What Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is an extended-release form of the drug naltrexone. Unlike Methadone or Suboxone, which can require a daily visit to a clinic, patients receive Vivitrol as a monthly shot. Methadone and Suboxone are both effective treatments, but it can be difficult for some people to maintain a daily medication schedule.

A downside of Vivitrol is that patients must go through detox before starting this protocol. However, the results may be well worth this inconvenience. In addition to reducing cravings and helping patients maintain sobriety, Vivitrol can also reduce other health risks associated with addiction.

As per the drug manufacturer’s website, side effects of Vivitrol may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Pain in joints
  • Muscle cramps
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Toothache
  • Trouble sleeping

Like any medication, Vivitrol is not recommended for all patients. People with liver damage or hepatitis may not be good candidates for Vivitrol. Patients taking opioid antagonists must follow all medical recommendations.

Using any type of opioid drug—whether illicitly or as a prescribed medication—could cause a dangerous reaction known as sudden opioid withdrawal.

How Vivitrol Works for Alcohol Addiction

Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist. Opioid agonists bind to targeted receptors in the brain and activate them. Once activated, receptors release the endorphins that reduce pain and produce pleasurable feelings. Antagonists do the opposite. Opioid antagonists bind to receptors and block opioids from activating endorphins.

You may wonder, if it affects opioid receptors, then how does Vivitrol work for alcohol addiction? Vivitrol blocks the effects of alcohol on brain receptors in the same way it blocks opioids.

If a person drinks alcohol while using the medication, they won’t feel intoxicated. Without the reward of intoxication, the brain stops craving alcohol because there is no association between alcohol and pleasure.

Most patients use the medication for at least six months, although it may be used for several years. Alcohol use disorder is a chronic condition, and as with other chronic conditions, treatment plans need to be updated over time. If the treatment continues to provide benefits, your healthcare professional may recommend you continue taking Vivitrol long-term.

Does Vivitrol Work for Alcohol Addiction as a Stand-Alone Treatment?

Vivitrol is designed for use as part of a larger treatment plan for people with alcohol use disorder. It has been found successful in minimizing cravings and reducing the risk of relapse when combined with traditional psychological treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or participation in a 12-step program.

With less focus on cravings or relapses that set treatment back, patients can focus on healing addiction-related trauma and practicing the new skills that will help them remain sober for a lifetime.

Woodland Recovery Center Offers Medication-Assisted Treatment Options

Medication-assisted treatments are especially helpful for patients who have prolonged and severe addictions. If you have been through treatment for alcohol use disorder at least once but cannot maintain sobriety, Vivitrol may help you achieve your health goals.

The dangers of alcohol overdose may not be as widely known as those of opioid overdose, but they are just as serious. Including an opioid antagonist in your treatment plan could save your life. To learn more about how Vivitrol works for alcohol addiction, call Woodland Recovery Center today at 662.222.2989.