In 2016, more than 11 million people in the US misused prescription opioids, signifying that the opioid epidemic in the states is a growing problem — especially in the Midwest. In fact, the Midwest saw a 70% increase in opioid overdoses from July 2016 to September 2017. That’s why our doctors and therapists at Brightside Clinic practice state-of-the-art alcoholism and opioid addiction treatment medications and counseling methods including Vivitrol regimens.
What is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is the name brand of a non-addictive, extended-release form of the drug naltrexone. It has no abuse potential and it helps to prevent opioid and alcohol relapse when coupled with counseling. Vivitrol blocks your brain’s opioid receptors in order to reduce cravings while your counselor helps you alleviate the more psychological aspects of your addiction.
Vivitrol comes in both injectable and pill forms. The injections are done on a monthly basis, typically used for those suffering from opiate addiction, while the pill form is typically used when treating alcoholism.
When is Vivitrol used?
Vivitrol is ALWAYS used after detox because it is used mainly to prevent cravings. In order to begin treatment, the patient must be clean for 7-14 days (note: “clean” meaning from all opioids as well as buprenorphine/Suboxone.) Thus, the patient has an increased potential for overdose after the medicine wears off, since their tolerance for opioids has greatly reduced. Additionally, since Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids, patients may attempt to use large quantities of opioids to overcome this blocking effect, which may lead to overdose.
Please note that Vivitrol should never be taken alone, but rather always in conjunction with therapy and counseling. This requirement is because of the high potential for overdose when the medication wears off. Having therapy or counseling with the medication is meant to coach the patient away from any harmful interactions.
How does Vivitrol work?
Vivitrol is a blocking medication, also commonly referred to as an “antagonist”. This means that the Vivitrol molecules don’t release dopamine themselves, but instead occupy the opioid receptors in the brain, “blocking” out the harmful opioid molecules and preventing the euphoric high that comes with heroin or similar opiates. This block wears off after about one month, helping patients to reduce their dependence on harmful street drugs and thusly lowering the probability of relapse. However, counseling must be used along with Vivitrol treatment in order to attack the root psychological issues of the patient’s addiction to truly cure them.
Keep in mind that Vivitrol isn’t right for everyone. We evaluate all of our patients on an individualized basis and create a professional treatment regimen that best suits the patient’s needs.
Vivitrol v. Methadone
Methadone is probably the most well-known treatment for heroin addiction. It is itself a very powerful opioid tightly regulated and controlled by the US government. It is also an agonist medication that helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and stave off cravings, although it is an addictive narcotic with potential for abuse. Generally speaking, treatment with methadone takes years because the patient must be very gradually weaned off of it.
Brightside Clinic offers Vivitrol to patients that are coming out of an inpatient program and want to continue treatment. It is ideal to start this regimen in an inpatient program because of the withdrawal symptoms that come prior to administering the medication.
If you or a loved one are addicted to heroin or prescription pain pills, it’s never too late to seek treatment. Our Vivitrol providers and professional counselors will help you get onto the road to recovery. Give us a call to take the first step to a healthy new you.