What is the Vivitrol Shot All About?

When you hear the word opioids, your mind may initially gravitate toward substances that are illegal such as heroin. Every day, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse website, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioid drugs.

Now, the majority of these overdoses aren’t coming from illegal substances. In fact, the majority of these overdoses are coming from substance abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers that lead to chemical changes in the brain resulting in opiate addiction and opioid overdose.

These opioids can create a physical dependency, even when there isn’t a psychological dependency. When you use opioids, a tolerance is developed, which means higher doses are needed to achieve the same desired effects. Hence, substance abuse and someone getting an opiate addiction and potentially opioid overdose.

As the brain and body become more dependent upon the opioid, the ability to withdrawal and discontinue usage becomes increasingly difficult. Factor all of this up and this is why the opioid epidemic is steadily rising. There are a plethora of medications that can help people with opiate addictions, such as methadone. But one medication that has garnered a lot of attention is Vivitrol.

What is a Vivitrol Shot?

Vivitrol, whose brand name is naltrexone is a unique Vivitrol treatment against opioid addiction due to it being non-addictive and not requiring as frequent use compared to other medications. This Vivitrol shot works as a once-monthly treatment that helps prevent patients from relapsing when also paired with counseling.

This happens because Vivitrol quiets the opioids by lessening the urge and then you combine the therapy afterward to help the patient psychologically. However, in order for Vivitrol to be used in its most effective manner, there are some key actions and habits that must be followed. Before a patient can start their Vivitrol treatment, they must be opioid-free for a 7-14 day period at a minimum in order to avoid a sudden opioid withdrawal which will only make life worse for the particular patient.

As far as measuring its effectiveness, Vivitrol produced 17x times a decrease in the likelihood of relapse to physical dependency. Another unique factor about Vivitrol is that it has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help alcohol dependency. Now, the exact nature of how Vivitrol (i.e.naltrexone) affects the alcohol recovery process is still relatively unknown.

If there are numerous options on the market to help with opioid and other addictions, what makes Vivitrol so special? The key factor making this particular compound special is that it’s an opioid antagonist.

How Opioid Antagonists Work?

Vivitrol is an opiate but also happens to be an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the effects of opioids. This means that it’s going to attach to the same receptors as the drugs would, but the typical trigger of the release of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine isn’t going to happen.

This antagonist stops the euphoric feelings that these drugs bring. The medicine is going to reside in these receptor sites and will reside there for a long time, which allows the detoxification process to happen. With this beneficial antagonist in place, patients are able to effectively go through their treatment and counseling leading to a more focused recovery.

Who Could Benefit From Vivitrol Shots?

There are numerous options on the market to treat various addictions. Depending on the drug that you misused or abused will ultimately determine whether Vivitrol is the ideal candidate or not. One big thing to always remember and it can never be emphasized enough is that solely using medications such Vivitrol won’t sober you by itself.

However, this shot will potentially ease the cravings and lessen the withdrawal symptoms along the challenging journey. Now, with that out of the way, the two big ideal groups for Vivitrol shots are opioid addicts and alcoholics.

Opioid Addicts

Vivitrol Shot

For opioid users, this option is a great one to use but you must be you must have stopped using opioids 7-14 days beforehand. From a mental standpoint, someone who is ready to take their treatment and recovery process seriously would be an ideal candidate.

Vivitrol also becomes an ideal option for those who are in the early stages of the opioid recovery process as studies have shown that people who took this medication stayed in their particular recovery program for a longer time. If someone stays in a program longer, then the likelihood of remaining abstinent and avoid relapsing down the road improves as well.

Those who combine Vivitrol with rehabilitation were 17 times less likely to replace compared to those who didn’t use Vivitrol.

As mentioned earlier, Vivitrol is an antagonist which blocks the opioid drugs from binding to the patient’s brain leading to more effective treatment. Combining counseling with Vivitrol for opioid addiction treatments lead to a 90 percent chance of opioid-free weeks compared to 35 percent of those who used the placebo.


Initially approved in 2006, Vivitrol has become a powerful stable in treating those recovering from alcohol use disorder. The difference between Vivitrol compared to other alcohol relapse preventing medications is that Vivitrol helps to minimize the ravings of alcohol by a totally different mechanism than the other ones.

The other preventive medicines work by making patients sick during the recovery process if they consume alcohol. In a six-week double-blind study, Vivitrol users paired with counseling to treat alcohol use disorder experienced a 25 percent reduction in the number of heavy drinking days after they graduated from their treatment program.

As the case with the opioids, pairing counseling with Vivitrol lead to more abstinence from alcohol along with a lower rate of relapsing in the future.

How Long Does the Vivitrol Shot Last?

Vivitrol shots are unique in that they are only administered once a month as opposed to some medications requiring daily usage. With that said, the Vivitrol shot is given through an intramuscular injection at a dosage of 380 mg. Once the Vivitrol shot is administered, it lasts around four weeks with its effects steadily released over that particular time period.

With that said, a peak normally occurs 2 hours after injection and then another peak 2-3 days after injection. After about two weeks, the concentrations begin to slowly decline about 2 weeks after the initial dosage, but the levels of the medication reside for a month.

On a side note for those worrying about it showing up on their drug test, it’s not a drug that employers test for.

Is Vivitrol Shot Safe?

Overall Vivitrol is a very safe compound to use as long as the specific patient follows the treatment plan, is medically supervised, and paid attention to the initial factors in deciding if they were an ideal candidate.

However, to determine if it’s safe to use, the first and most important factor is that you haven’t used opioids the last 7-14 days (which can’t be stated enough). Going beyond this initial measure, the next thing to consider is that it’s not potentially ideal for those who use an opiate-based medication for pain relief.

If you have a kidney or liver issues, then this medication wouldn’t be of use since it would those with liver failure or acute hepatitis. Women who are pregnant should avoid taking Vivitrol shots as well along with those who have various assortments that cause bleeding problems such as hemophilia.

Lastly, due to Vivitrol blocking a person’s ability to feel an opioid high, people may try to overcome this by consuming a higher dose, which would be dangerous.

Vivitrol Shot Side Effects

As with any powerful medication, Vivitrol shots present an array of possible side effects to users. A study by DuPont Pharma consisting of 570 Vivitrol participants being treated for alcoholism revealed that feeling nauseated was the most commonly occurring side effect. This totaled ten percent of users with headaches (seven percent) and depression (5-7 percent) being the next two common side effects.

Moving on, some other side effects are Pneumonia setting in due to an allergic reaction. Speaking of allergic reactions, issue such as skin rashes, sweeping of the face, eyes, or mouth can occur. Lastly, common issues such as sleepiness, decreased appetite, muscle cramps, cold symptoms, or trouble sleeping can morph into a possibility from the shot.

Vivitrol Shot Cost and Where to Buy

As with most medications, the cost varies and the type of insurance that one has plays a big part in the actual cost. Without insurance, the price of Vivitrol can be as high as $1,906 per shot. Up until recently, this shot wasn’t covered particularly well by most insurers which led to high out-of-pocket expenses from users. However, with certain insurances, users can pay as little as $25-50 dollars on their co-pay. Medicaid is also increasing its reimbursement support of the Vivitrol shots which will help.

Also, there is a Vivitrol Co-pay Savings Program that covers up to $500 per month of co-pay or deductible expenses for eligible patients as long as they have a Vivitrol prescription. Eligible participants include those with commercial health insurance and those without insurance or simply electing to not use their particular insurance. To get this card simply requires one to head to the Vivitrol website and follow the 3 step process.

To receive and purchase your Vivitrol injections isn’t complicated, but does require a few steps needed to be completed in sequential order. Vivitrol is available from any medical professional that prescribes medications. With that said, the first step starts with communicating and working with your particular healthcare provider and filling out the specialty pharmacy form.

After your healthcare provider sends over the form, your insurance is confirmed along with the payment structure and then the pharmacy calls to coordinate your first prescription. After verification of your prescription and confirmation of its arrival, you’ll simply visit your healthcare provider to receive your Vivitrol injection. Then it’s just a matter of repeating the previous steps beside the form filling. As for where to buy the prescription, this will happen at any major pharmacy retail outlet.

Vivitrol Shot Review

When it comes to trading opioid addictions, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. While recovery drugs such as methadone can sometimes lead to another dependency or addiction in itself, Vivitrol isn’t known to create an addiction. This factor alone makes Vivitrol shots an appealing option for many who need assistance to break their dependency and addictions.

While this all sounds great, it’s important to remember that Vivitrol isn’t the cure-all for opiate and opioid addictions. As stated earlier, the big downside to Vivitrol is the detox period that is an absolute must before one can start to use this particular medication.

Lastly, users must remember that Vivitrol isn’t an opioid so withdrawal symptoms aren’t out of question from happening. However, with all of this said, Vivitrol seems like a worthy consideration providing one understands and is okay with the initial requirements.

Is Vivitrol Right For You?

Unfortunately, in life, there isn’t a magic potion that can provide us with absolute certainty to situations. And this is especially true when it comes to treating opioid addictions and alcohol use disorders. Vivitrol isn’t a magic prescription, but it most certainly can help many people when combined with psychotherapy.

These two factors along with the established track record of success stories show that this is an effective treatment for those battling to eliminate these tough conditions. But as always, the best option is to speak with a professional who can objectively weigh the pros and cons for you.