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Vivitrol – Uses, Risks & Benefits

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is the brand name for the injectable form of the generic drug naltrexone. Treatment programs provide Vivitrol as a monthly injection for those addicted to opioids. A simplified explanation of how it works is that it occupies the brain’s receptors that are normally affected by the opioid. Since the receptors are full, the drug has no place to go. Therefore, patients do not feel the pleasurable effects of the drugs that they are expecting.

Vivitrol must be used only by those who have already gone through detox and are 100 percent opiate free. Furthermore, anyone who has taken an opioid of any kind within the previous 10-14 days should not use Vivitrol. Please discuss instructions of use and concerns with your prescribing physician before taking this drug.

In most cases, the benefits of Vivitrol outweigh the risks when used as recommended and under medical supervision. This medication truly eliminates the physical craving for opioid drugs, making the recovery process much easier while also preventing relapses. Although, using this drug in conjunction with opioids can be dangerous or even life-threatening.

Vivitrol is not intended for a stand-alone treatment for opiate addiction. It is most effective when combined with counseling and other aspects of a comprehensive recovery program.

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Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction

The FDA approved the use of Vivitrol for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder in 2010. The thought behind this drug was that it significantly reduces cravings, which will help prevent immediate relapse after detoxification. Also, studies showed that while on Vivitrol, people could remain at drug treatment programs and remain abstinent for extended periods of time. Although this medication is incredibly useful in preventing relapse, it is vital to understand that before beginning Vivitrol therapy, you need to complete a detox program, have no opioids in your body, or not going through withdrawal symptoms.

Other studies have shown that those who use Vivitrol in combination with psychological counseling to treat opioid use disorder have 90% opioid-free weeks compared to 35% who took a placebo.

If you are interested in an injection of Vivitrol to treat alcohol dependence or opioid use disorder, you will first need complete detoxification. A Medically Assisted Opioid Detoxification in an accredited hospital offers a higher level of success, safety, and comfort. Medical detoxification in a hospital might be more appropriate than the standard drug rehab because it nearly eliminates the relapse risks during the withdrawal phase. In a medical facility, doctors can also manage vitals. This reduces the risks of any adverse health event related to symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

If you consider using Vivitrol as part of your addiction treatment program, talk with your doctor about whether this medication is right for you. This drug has several significant advantages to the oral form of Naltrexone, but there are also risks being considered.

Is Waismann Method Safe?

As part of the Waismann Method® of opioid detox treatment, patients either take naltrexone or vivitrol. initially, the medical director recommends patients take daily dose of oral naltrexone. This way, the team can more closely monitor the patient for any side effects, and adjust the dosage if necessary. It also gives patients time to be certain of the commitment to receiving monthly Vivitrol injections. This personal commitment minimizes the risk of adverse consequences. However, if the patient prefers to receive the Vivitrol shot right after the rapid detox, the option is available and can be discussed with our medical director.

For more information about opioid detox treatment options with the use of injectable Vivitrol, contact us at Waismann Method® at 1-800-423-2482 and speak confidentially with one of our experts.

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Vivitrol Benefits and Risks


The main benefit is that it eliminates, or substantially reduces, the craving for opiates. It is particularly suited for those who travel a lot. They do not need to concern themselves with taking a daily dose of oral medication, naltrexone. Many who use Vivitrol report having more peace of mind as they work toward their recovery free of constant cravings for an opiate.

Read our article addressing the question, Is Vivitrol the solution for the opioid crisis?


When taking any medication, there are risks and side effects. Some of the most common risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Opioid overdose- The most significant risk of using Vivitrol is an opioid overdose. This can occur in one of two ways:1) Vivitrol blocks the effects of opiates, and some patients who decide to use again think they can overcome the blocking effect by taking large amounts of an opiate as they try to reach their “high.”
    2) If they stop their use of Vivitrol for a period, they are more sensitive to the effect of a lower dose of opiates and, even if they take a small amount of their drug, an overdose can occur.
  • Liver damage – Your health care provider will monitor your liver function while you are taking Vivitrol. Also, be sure to report any stomach pain lasting more than several days, unusual fatigue, or dark urine.
  • Reactions at the injection site – Inform your physician if you have swelling, redness, lumps, and/or pain at the injection site that lasts more than a few days or gets worse instead of better as the days pass.
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms – Using any opioid medication while on Vivitrol, including some types of cough syrup, other treatments for the common cold, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements, can cause your body to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms. This can be dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.

You should not receive a Vivitrol shot if you still using opioids, or you could have immediate and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Vivitrol Side Effects

Although not everyone experiences side effects, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Allergic reactions
  • Nausea, which usually subsides within several days after the first injection
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Headache

Get immediate emergency medical assistance if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Vivitrol. Some of these symptoms can include hives, difficult breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

This is not a complete list of Vivitrol side effects; others may occur. For more accurate information, call your prescribing doctor for medical advice and possible side effects.

Finding the Best Treatment Facility

Alcoholism and opioid addiction are a complex condition, subsequently affecting many people’s lives and in so many ways. A physician should consider various aspects of a person’s life before prescribing medications for craving control. Also, several forms of treatment may need to be combined to achieve success.  If you are ready to get off opioids and need help choosing the best detox program with a Vivitrol shot option, don’t hesitate to call us today at 1-800-423-2482.

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