What Is Vivitrol?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Vivitrol is a drug that blocks the action of opiates (drugs used to treat pain). It may be used in the treatment of intravenous opiate addiction or alcohol dependence. Vivitrol shots are also being studied in the treatment of breast cancer. It may block the effects of the hormone estrogen, which causes some breast cancer cells to grow, or block the blood flow to tumors. It is a type of opiate antagonist. Also called naltrexone hydrochloride and ReVia.
Vivitrol is a brand name for a naltrexone injection used to block the effects of opioid medication. This is helpful when treating those who have previously been dependent upon or addicted to opioids. With Vivitrol, it can stop the feelings of well-being or pain relief to prevent a relapse of abuse.
It keeps the user from feeling like they must continue using the opioid. It is also helpful 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. However, there is a list of Vivitrol side effects.
How is Vivitrol Used?
Naltrexone 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 Vivitrol shots 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 see a small, hard lump. If this is your reaction after the shot and it does not clear up within two weeks, it’s essential to bring this up with your doctor.
It is often used as just one part of a complete treatment program for those fighting against opioid or alcohol dependence relapse. It usually comes with counseling, close monitoring, or another type of treatment for a more holistic approach. When using Vivitrol shots, it’s essential to carry a medical ID tag on you that states your medication use. Then, if anything happened to you, any medical provider must know that you’re receiving this medication.
This is because, after a Vivitrol shot, you become much more sensitive to opioids. In addition, the medication reduces the feel-good side effects of narcotics, which could lead to an accidental overdose or even possible death.
What are the Vivitrol Side Effects?
Anti-addiction medications like Vivitrol can produce strong physical responses in some users, while others may not experience any unpleasant symptoms at all. Some of the minor Vivitrol side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst
- Muscle or joint pain
- Pain, bruising, swelling, itching, and infection (at the site of injection)
- Stomach pain
Vivitrol has the potential to cause liver damage and should not be taken by people with a history of liver disease or hepatitis. It is also possible to experience minor withdrawal symptoms when being treated with Vivitrol. If there are traces of opioids or opioid recovery medications in your system you can experience more serious Vivitrol side effects that can include:
- Blurred vision
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
If any of these symptoms are experienced while using Vivitrol you should contact a doctor immediately. To prevent the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms in patients dependent on opioids, patients should be opioid-free for a minimum of 7-10 days before starting Vivitrol treatment.
Patients should also be aware that Vivitrol decreases their tolerance to opioids. If the patient has previously used opioids, they may be more sensitive to lower doses of opioids after Vivitrol treatment is discontinued. After completing treatment, patients should inform any doctor who may prescribe medications previously treated with Vivitrol.
If you are battling an opioid addiction, it is important to know that taking opioids while on Vivitrol is very dangerous. Although Vivitrol blocks the perception of the euphoria associated with opioids, it is less efficient at blocking the respiratory and cardiovascular effects of opioids. Attempting to self-administer heroin or any other opioid drug while on Vivitrol highly increases the risk of an opioid overdose. This can lead to serious injury, coma, or death.
Common Vivitrol Side Effects
- 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 Vivitrol Side Effects
- Depressive Mood
- Allergic Reaction: Swelling of face, tongue, lips, throat
- Difficulty Breathing
Other Vivitrol Side Effects
- Shallow Breathing
- Lightheaded or Severe Dizziness
- Depression or Suicidal Thoughts
- Severe pain at the site of injection
- Severe Cough
Can Other Drugs Affect Vivitrol Side Effects?
When using Vivitrol, it will block the effects of any narcotic medication 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 Vivitrol side effects that could occur as well, so steer clear of narcotics. This is one reason why any doctor treating you should know you are receiving Vivitrol Shots. 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 Shots. Only 29 of the interactions are primary, 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.
Before taking Vivitrol, here is some important information you should know about the medication and Vivitrol side effects. There’s a risk of opioid overdose. Unfortunately, Vivitrol makes it easier to overdose in two significant ways accidentally.
The first way: Vivitrol blocks the feel-good effects of opioids. Trying to overcome this effect by taking more substantial amounts of opioids 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 used before treatment with Vivitrol Shots, it can lead to overdose and death. You’re more sensitive to the effects of smaller pieces of opioids at certain times while taking Vivitrol.
You’re especially sensitive to the risk of overdose during these times. They include:
- 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 experienced severe reactions at the site of Vivitrol shots, including the death of the tissue in the 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 you could go through a sudden opioid withdrawal if you do. You must stop taking opioids or street drugs at least seven days before beginning Vivitrol. If you can control it 14 days before starting with Vivitrol shots, that is even better. There’s an active ingredient in it that can cause liver damage or hepatitis. If you notice these symptoms, please get in touch with your doctor:
- Dark urine
- Lasting stomach pain
- Yellow eyes
Always speak with your doctor about 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, connect on the following if necessary:
- Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant
- Active breastfeeding
- Current medications (including OTC and herbal remedies)
Vivitrol for opioid and alcohol dependence
For Opioid Dependence
Vivitrol contains naltrexone, an opioid antagonist with the highest affinity for the mu-opioid receptor. Naltrexone has little or no opioid agonist activity. It is believed that the occupation of opioid receptors by naltrexone may block the effects of endogenous opioid peptides. In addition, it markedly attenuates or completely blocks, reversibly, the subjective effects of exogenous opioids. This makes the blockade produced potentially surmountable. Naltrexone has few, if any, intrinsic actions besides its opioid blocking properties.
For Alcohol Dependence
Occupation of opioid receptors by naltrexone may block the effects of endogenous opioid peptides. Thus, it markedly attenuates or completely blocks, reversibly, the subjective effects of exogenous opioids. The neurobiological mechanisms responsible for reducing alcohol consumption observed in alcohol-dependent clients treated with naltrexone are not entirely understood. However, the involvement of the endogenous opioid system is suggested by preclinical data.
Vivitrol is not suitable for everyone. In addition, there are significant risks from Vivitrol shots, including the risk of opioid overdose, injection site reactions, and sudden opioid withdrawal.
Reclaim Your Life From Vivitrol Side Effects – Dual Diagnosis Rehab Washington
We Level Up dual diagnosis rehab Washington provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support through evidence-based treatment and therapies. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists and to learn more about Vivitrol side effects. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments
The We Level Up Washington primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment programs for underlying conditions like Vivitrol addiction that frequently fuels harmful behaviors. Taking that first step to get the professional support you need can be life-transforming.
We know how mental health disorders and secondary co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses directly affect one another. The We Level Up Washington treatment center provides recovery programs through science-based mental health treatments that can help you feel better. Call us now for a free mental health evaluation!
Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at affiliated facilities at other We Level Up Treatment Centers locations beyond the Washington treatment facility.
 National Cancer Institute – Vivitrol (www.cancer.gov)