Getting and staying sober can be difficult for many that are on a path towards recovery. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, know that the Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine can help. With Vivitrol treatment, individuals who are dependent on alcohol or narcotics in Virginia can fight off the cravings and get a head start towards sober living.Healing takes time. It takes energy. It takes dedication. But with the support of family and friends, the guidance of expert physicians, and the life-changing medical innovations available to us, it is possible. Especially when combined with our other services such as therapy and psychiatry, Vivitrol has the potential to change the lives of people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Here’s how:
What Is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is a brand name of a naltrexone injection used to block the effects of opioid medication. This is helpful when it comes to treating those who have previously been dependent upon or addicted to opioids. With Vivitrol, the feelings of well-being or pain relief can be blocked so as to prevent a relapse of abuse. It keeps the user from feeling like they must continue using the opioid.It can also be used to deter someone from drinking alcohol. In this way, it works similarly on alcoholism as it does on drug addiction. While Vivitrol is not a cure for drug addiction or alcoholism, it can help subdue the side effects and reduce the urge to continue using narcotics or alcohol.
Who Is Vivitrol For?
Vivitrol is for those who have already gone through either opioid detoxification or alcohol detoxification. It’s important to have already gone through this process so that there is no physical dependence still lingering. It’s best for those who are trying to treat their alcohol dependence long term to kick the habit of drinking. It’s also intended for those who are looking to avoid an opioid dependence relapse.
It is NOT for those who still have any sort of physical dependence on narcotics or alcohol. This will be tested with what is called a naloxone challenge test – the doctor injects a small amount of naloxone to see if any opioid withdrawal symptoms set in. If withdrawal symptoms are evident, Vivitrol treatment can not be started.
It should only ever be recommended for those as an element to a long-term treatment program to deter former users from relapsing.
How’s It Used?
Vivitrol is an injection that is used by being administered into a muscle. It’s typically given every four weeks by either a doctor or a clinic nurse to prevent relapse. Getting regular injections of Vivitrol is crucial to get the most out of it.
After the injection, you may notice a bit of swelling, redness, pain, or bruising at the injection site. You may even notice a small, hard lump. If this is the reaction you have after the shot and it does not clear up within two weeks, it’s important to bring this up to your doctor.
Vivitrol is often used as just one part of a complete treatment program for those who are fighting against opioid or alcohol dependence relapse. It often comes along with counseling, close monitoring, or another type of treatment for a more holistic approach.
When you’re using Vivitrol, it’s important to carry a medical ID tag on you that states your use of the medication. If anything were to happen to you, it’s crucial that any medical provider knows that you’re receiving this medication.
This is because after using Vivitrol, you become much more sensitive to opioids. The medication reduces the feel-good side effects of narcotics, which could lead to an accidental overdose or even possible death.
What Are the Side Effects of Vivitrol?
As with any drug, there are a number of possible side effects a user might experience. The common side effects you may experience include:
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea, vomiting
- Appetite changes
- Abnormal liver function test results
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Pain or swelling at the injection site
- Stuffy nose
- Tooth pain
Serious side effects that should immediately be brought to the attention of your doctor include:
- Depressed mood
- Allergic reaction:
- Swelling of face, tongue, lips, throat
- Difficulty breathing
Using any sort of opioid medication while receiving Vivitrol injections could possibly stimulate opioid withdrawal symptoms. The first signs of withdrawal you may notice could include:
- Fever and chills
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Body aches
- Restless feeling, trouble sleeping
If your withdrawal escalates and you begin to notice these symptoms, you should immediately call your doctor:
- Shallow breathing
- Light headed or severe dizziness
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Severe pain at the site of injection
- Severe cough
- Liver problems
Can Other Drugs Affect Vivitrol?
When using Vivitrol, it will block the effects of any narcotic medicine you may need to take. This could include prescriptions for cough, diarrhea, or pain. While these effects are not harmful, they will cause narcotics to be ineffective.
There are harmful side effects that could possibly occur as well, so steer clear of narcotics. This is one of the reasons why any doctor that is treating you should know you are receiving Vivitrol.
There are also further drug interactions with the naltrexone injection. These may include issues with OTC vitamins, medicines, or herbal products. Currently, there are 294 known drug interactions with Vivitrol. Only 29 of the interactions are major, while 265 are moderate.
The most frequently checked interactions on the moderate-to-major scale are reported between Vivitrol and the following medications:
- Suboxone (major interaction)
- Wellbutrin (major interaction)
- Antabuse (moderate)
- Cymbalta (moderate)
- Atorvastatin (moderate)
- Ibuprofen (moderate)
Other frequently checked interactions include albuterol, clonidine, gabapentin, hydrochlorothiazide, hydroxyzine, klonopin, omeprazole, propranolol, quetiapine, tramadol, trazodone, xanax, and zoloft.
How Long Will I Need to Take Vivitrol?
Vivitrol has proven to be an effective and safe option for those looking for relapse support either short-term or long-term. The benefit of this is that individuals that are receiving Vivitrol can use it for as short or as long as they wish based on their goals of treatment.
For example, some individuals may choose to receive Vivitrol injections every four weeks for years. On the other hand, others may only need to use it for a few months in order to get back on track.
It’s generally recommended to use Vivitrol for at least one year to receive the maximum benefits. When determining your eligibility for Vivitrol injections, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about projected length of treatment.
Important Information About Vivitrol
Before taking Vivitrol, here is some important information you should know about the medication and its side effects:
There’s a risk of opioid overdose
Vivitrol makes it easier to accidentally overdose in two major ways. The first way – Vivitrol blocks the feel-good effects of opioids. In trying to overcome this effect by taking larger amounts of opioids, it could lead to coma, serious injury, or even death.
The second way – the blocking effect slowly fades away over time. If you use opioids in amounts that were used before treatment with Vivitrol, it can lead to overdose and death. You’re more sensitive to the effects of smaller amounts of opioids at certain times while taking Vivitrol. You’re especially sensitive to the risk of overdose during these times.
- After detoxification
- Right before the next Vivitrol dose is due
- If a dose of Vivitrol is missed
- If Vivitrol is suddenly stopped
- Severe injection site reactions have occurred
Some people have experienced severe reactions at the site of their Vivitrol injections, including death of the tissue in that area. In some scenarios, surgery has been required. The main signs that you are having a severe injection site reaction include:
- Hard-feeling underneath the skin
- Intense pain
- Open wounds
You must not have any opioids in your system. This is crucial to keep in mind because if you do, you could go through a sudden opioid withdrawal. It’s important that you stop taking opioids or street drugs at least 7 days before beginning Vivitrol. If you are able to stop 14 days before beginning Vivitrol, that is even better.
There’s an active ingredient in it that can cause liver damage or hepatitis.
If you notice these symptoms, please contact your doctor:
- Dark urine
- Lasting stomach pain
- Yellow eyes
- You’ll need to fill your doctor in
Always speak with your doctor on the details of your current health before beginning Vivitrol treatment. These details include the history of drug abuse, liver problems, hemophilia, or kidney problems. Also, touch base on the following if necessary:
- Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant
- Active breastfeeding
- Current medications (including OTC and herbal remedies)
Call VCAM For Vivitrol Treatment if you think Vivitrol has the potential to change your life for the better and make it easier to say no to opioids or alcohol, don’t delay. Call our rehab experts at The Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine today to discuss your treatment case and how Vivitrol might be able to aid in your path to lasting recovery.