Vivitrol Injection Treatment in Sacramento
It is a long-lasting injection form of naltrexone, a medication that works by blocking the receptor opioids bind to in the brain.
Patients in treatment with Vivitrol (compared to no medication treatment) have a reduced rate of relapse, reduced illegal activities, reduced risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other communicable diseases, fewer hospitalizations, better ability to maintain employment, and improved family relationships.
How We Can Help
A Healthcare Provider Must Prescribe & Administer Vivitrol
Vivitrol is a medication that is prescribed by a healthcare provider and administered in the office. It is given as an injection in the buttocks every 4 weeks.
The FDA has approved Vivitrol for the treatment of opioid dependence and alcohol dependence, and is used as a part of a comprehensive treatment regimen, along with other interventions.
Vivitrol for Alcohol Abuse
There are three primary medications used to treat alcohol use disorder: acamprosate (Camprol), disulfiram (Antabuse), and naltrexone (Vivitrol in injection form, also comes as a pill). Vivitrol has been shown to be effective in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.
Compared to no treatment, patients on Vivitrol have fewer episodes of drinking, drink less when they do drink, have less overall alcohol consumption, and are more likely to maintain sobriety.
It is important to recognize that Vivitrol is a part of the treatment, but other elements are also important.
For example, people with a substance use disorder benefit from regular counseling, support from peers, exercise, and having a purpose in their life, in addition to medication.
Vivitrol decreases the cravings to drink alcohol; with fewer cravings, there is less drinking. Vivitrol also blocks the “good” feelings that come with drinking.
It does not stop someone who drinks from being impaired. Over time, because there is less reward associated with alcohol use, the behavior diminishes.
What Do I Need to Know About Starting Vivitrol Treatment in Sacramento
Start Vivitrol treatment begins with an initial appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner. At that initial appointment, there is a comprehensive assessment of the patient’s medical history and history of alcohol use.
At that initial appointment, before we start Vivitrol treatment, we also have a comprehensive discussion regarding the risks, benefits, and alternatives of Vivitrol, along with how Vivitrol fits into a comprehensive recovery plan.
If someone is still drinking, we also plan for how to safely manage alcohol withdrawal (detox).
Sometimes, we can start the medication at the initial appointment, and sometimes there is a short delay before receiving the Vivitrol injection.
As a patient moves into recovery away from an active opioid use disorder, we start working to build treatment services and plans that can fit your unique situation.
Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction
Opioids are a class of chemicals that have multiple effects in the body, ranging from euphoria to decreasing pain to respiratory depression. Opioids are not good or bad— they are commonly used to great effect in modern medicine (think after surgery, with broken bones, etc.). As with anything, an excess can lead to opioid overdose.
The problem with opioids is the chemical itself and the role it plays in a person’s life. When opioids become the reason for living (rather than a tool to enable living well), think of opiate use as a problem, as a disorder.
There are three primary medications used in the treatment of opioid abuse: buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex, Sublocade), methadone, and naltrexone (Vivitrol). It is highly effective, but it is harder to start Vivitrol than it is to start buprenorphine or methadone.
It is only the only medication to treat opioid use disorder that does not cause any withdrawal when stopped— this is because while Vivitrol acts on the opiate receptor as a blocker, it does not activate the receptor.
Because Vivitrol treatment does not involve activation of the opioid receptor (instead acting as an opioid blocker), there are a couple of key challenges and risks that go along with its use in treating opioid use disorder (such as treatment of addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin, or fentanyl).
First, when a person is regularly taking opioids, the tolerance for opioids increases. This means that it takes more opioids to achieve the same effect. When someone has been off of opioids, the tolerance falls. If someone were to then relapse to opioid use after being off for several months (because they had been receiving Vivitrol), the likelihood of an opioid overdose is much higher.
Second, because Vivitrol acts as an opioid blocker, there is a fairly significant “Opioid detoxification” period required before starting Vivitrol— usually, 7-14 days with no opiates in the body before the first injection can be given. Sometimes, this period is longer, such as when transitioning from methadone or when someone has been muscling heroin.
Because Vivitrol Is Not an Opioid, Is It Better?
Not necessarily. The goal of treatment for opioid abuse (such as prescription painkillers or heroin) is to help patients live a healthy, happy, meaningful life. The problem with using opioids or alcohol is that it is difficult to live that life while taking those chemicals. As anyone who has struggled with an opioid use disorder knows, opioids interfere with living a healthy, happy life.
Treatment is aimed at allowing patients to live a healthy, happy, meaningful life, and the reason to prescribe medication is to help with that goal. In a similar way, the role of counseling in treatment is to further that goal.
Remember, medications are just a tool to help with recovery, not the end goal. Each of the medication treatment options for opioid use disorder (methadone, buprenorphine, Vivitrol) comes with unique risks and benefits; the key is to find the medication that best fits your unique situation and your goals for recovery.
Why Counseling is a Part of Treatment
Substance abuse disorders are complex. Part of the treatment is medication, but part of the treatment is also about shifting beliefs and behaviors, gaining healthier strategies for coping with adversity, and tackling life’s problems in healthy ways.
This is where counseling comes and why counseling is such an important part of treatment for Vivitrol patients. It is difficult to shift perspective without help from the outside when one has an opioid addiction or opioid use disorder.
However, counseling is generally not effective if its “forced.” Counseling means different things to different people and can occur in different settings and at different intensities (think seeing a counselor three times per week vs. once per month).
As we work with you on your recovery, we help you decide what type of counseling, in what setting, and at what intensity is right for your treatment.
Counseling is integral to pretty much every treatment setting, from methadone clinics to inpatient treatment centers to our office.