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What’s it Like to be on Vivitrol?

What’s it Like to be on Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is the monthly injectable version of naltrexone. It’s an opioid antagonist that blocks opioid receptors in the brain, preventing opioid drugs from causing euphoria or pain relief. In studies, it has been shown to be about as effective as buprenorphine, but because you have to detox completely to use Vivitrol, the dropout rate was much higher. Vivitrol is still a relatively uncommon form of medication assisted treatment, especially compared to methadone. Vivitrol is still fairly new and each shot costs about 1500 dollars, which may or may not be covered by insurance. While more studies examine the advantages and drawbacks of Vivitrol compared to other medications, it might be worthwhile to look at what it’s actually like to be on Vivitrol.

There are two main factors that influence people’s experience on Vivitrol: what drug they want to quit and whether they take Vivitrol voluntarily. Vivitrol is effective for both opioids and alcohol. People taking Vivitrol for alcohol seem to have a better experience. This is partly because the euphoria of alcohol is mild compared to opioids, so quittung doesn’t feel quite so much like going off a hedonic cliff. Going from opioids to nothing, on the other hand, is brutal. The disparity is much greater and Vivitrol doesn’t address cravings. People typically find the partial detox and half step down of methadone and buprenorphine much more bearable.

The other factor is whether the user is motivated to quit. Going through full detox is painful, and even then some people experience headache and nausea when starting Vivitrol. People who are forced to take Vivitrol, either by their families or by the justice system often find it difficult to deal with cravings and sometimes try to overcome the effect of the Vivitrol, or try to get high during the small window toward the end of the month. People also sometimes start using drugs like cocaine or benzos that aren’t blocked by Vivitrol. Someone who is extremely motivated to quit, though, and has a plan and a support system might do pretty well on Vivitrol.

One possible problem with Vivitrol is that is doesn’t just block opioid drugs; it also blocks endogenous opioids, or the opioids your brain produces itself. These are typically associated with any pleasurable activity including eating, listening to music, and socializing. Studies have found that naltrexone, the active ingredient in Vivitrol, can make pretty much everything–not just drugs and alcohol–less pleasurable. For some people, this is a good thing. Some people with ADD, for example, have said turning the volume down on the pleasure allows them to focus better and be more productive. In some people, though, anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, can lead to depression. Some studies have shown that your risk of depression doubles when taking naltrexone.

Not everyone’s experience is the same. Not only do circumstances differ, but people respond to any drug in ways that are sometimes completely opposite. Vivitrol might be a useful tool in fighting addiction, but it should be taken voluntarily, and as part of a comprehensive plan for treatment.

Sound Recovery mission is to offer programs and services to treat alcohol and drug addiction treatment using an evidence based curriculum, 12 step programs, diet, nutrition, exercise, emotional, mental and spiritual development for a long recovery. For more information, please call us at 866-294-9401 as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.