Vivitrol: An Introduction

Vivitrol (generic name: Naltrexone) is a medication that is regularly used as part of MAT at substance abuse recovery centers. MAT, or Medication Assisted Treatment, is a form of addiction treatment that has been supported by evidence and healthcare professionals.

This prescription is available by injection and in pill form. The injectable, known to treat opioid addiction, is administered once a month into the muscle of the buttocks by a medical specialist. The pill version, which is most commonly used to treat alcoholism and alcohol abuse, must be taken once a day and at the same time each day. A Vivitrol prescription will typically follow medical detoxification, which rids substances from the body, in the rehabilitation process.

Why People Take Vivitrol

People take Vivitrol to help remove substances from their lives and move forward or stay on track with their recovery. This medication is designed to curb cravings for alcohol or drugs, which decreases the risk of relapse. The injectable version does this by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, making it impossible for someone on Vivitrol to get high for about one month. At the one month mark, the individual will receive another injection. The pill version, on the other hand, blocks the rush of endorphins that is typically released when someone drinks alcohol. This endorphin blockage will not prevent someone from getting drunk, but it will reduce the amount of pleasure that a person gets from drinking alcohol. 

Vivitrol is usually combined with a type of behavioral therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in most cases) to take a holistic approach on substance abuse recovery. Unlike many other types of relapse prevention medications, there is no risk of dependence or abuse with Vivitrol.

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Taking this medication may result in mild or serious side effects, depending on the individual. When used for opioid abuse, Vivitrol may cause the following common side effects:

  • Toothache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Common cold or flu
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Injection site reactions
  • Headache

When used for alcohol dependence or abuse, this medication could cause symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Decreased appetite
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Headaches

The injectable and pill form of Vivitrol can cause similar serious side effects. Serious side effects of Vivitrol use include withdrawal, an increased risk of opioid overdose, liver disease, pneumonia, depression, and suicidal thoughts. If a person experiences any of the above symptoms after taking Vivitrol, they should contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Is Vivitrol Right For You?

While Vivitrol can help individuals beat their addictions, it is not the right choice for everyone. To see if Vivitrol is right for you, talk to your doctor or a recovery specialist about your treatment goals. Individuals who take the injectable version of Vivitrol must stop using opioids at least 7-14 days before their first injection. This medication must be combined with another treatment method or accompanying rehabilitation program to ensure success.


If you’re curious about receiving Medication Assisted Treatment and taking Vivitrol, call our team of substance abuse recovery specialists at 267.209.7312 for additional information or to enroll in a program. Visit us our medication assisted treatment page to learn more about Vivitrol and other MAT options.