Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of naltrexone.

Naltrexone is not an opiate, but it has the ability to occupy opiate receptor sites in the brain.  This blocks the effects of opiates and opioids like heroin or Oxycontin.

Naltrexone is non-narcotic and does not result in physical dependence.

Other formulations of naltrexone are already used to treat addiction to opiates.  But Vivitrol is different in that Vivitrol is a once-monthly treatment.  Monthly dosing has the potential to greatly improve treatment success for people living with opiate addiction.

Formulations of naltrexone that require daily dosing are often not effective because many patients simply skip doses or stop taking the medication as part of a relapse.  Since a single dose of Vivitrol is effective for one month, patients are less likely to be able to circumvent the treatment in a weak moment.

Vivitrol is a form of medication-assisted treatment for opiate dependence.  But Vivitrol is not an opiate replacement therapy.  Opiate replacement therapies are treatments that address problematic use of fast-acting opiates like heroin by prescribing therapeutic doses of longer-acting, less euphoric opiates like methadone or Suboxone under medical supervision.

Vivitrol patients must not have used opiates within 7-10 days of taking Vivitrol.  In other words, an opiate-dependent person must detox from opiates before starting treatment with Vivitrol.  Detox is a very uncomfortable process for most people.  The need to detox before starting treatment with Vivitrol is a barrier to treatment for some patients.

Vivitrol is administered by injecting the medication into muscle.

Patients who try to overcome the blockade effect of Vivitrol by taking large amounts of opiates in an attempt to feel the euphoric effects of opiates may be at increased risk of fatal drug overdose.

Vivitrol is FDA approved for the treatment of opiate dependence (2010) and alcohol dependence (2006).

Learn more about Vivitrol treatment for addiction to heroin or other opiates:

Vivitrol on FDA Fast Track to Treat Heroin Addiction

Half Remain Heroin Free for Full Year in Vivitrol Treatment Study

Recovery Essay Contest Winner Talks About Naltrexone

Could Vivitrol Before Release Prevent Prisoners From Returning?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 madyson February 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Just thought you would like to know Tom, that J is doing VERY well on the pill form of Naltrexone. We have not found a doctor to give the shot yet. Do you think he should just call his family doctor?

This is the thing that is most interesting to me. 1) He noticed chocolate doesn’t taste the same or give any satifaction. 2) He says he has less of a desire to smoke. 3) He says that he has no cravings since he has been taking it. When he was still in rehab he even tried to make himself crave using his usual thought triggers and he couldn’t do it. It was a huge relief to him.

Now I know that they say that it does not help with cravings but for him it does. He is calm and normal…nothing unusual which is sooooooo unusual. I refuse to tell him that actually this isn’t for craving help because he believes it is. I won’t even write about it on my blog because I know he reads it sometimes. LOL


2 recoveryhelpdesk February 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Nice to hear from you Madyson and I’m really glad to hear J is doing so well.

I’m really interested in hearing about people’s experience with cravings while taking Vivitrol or other forms of naltrexone, so thanks for this information.

Vivitrol costs something like $1,000 per injection, so if the pill form is working well for J I’d stick with that!

3 kathy March 26, 2013 at 10:21 pm

My daughter successfully got clean with Vivitrol. Seven years of heroin use, nine times through rehabs and she has been clean since the very first shot. She was on Vivitrol for 13 months and has been clean 21 months now. She had tried Suboxone and Methadone but neither was able to help her stop, she just used less while taking her prescriptions or sold the Suboxone to buy more heroin. For us, Vivitrol was nothing less than a miracle.

Something not a lot of people know about Vivitrol is that the company that makes it provides up to $500 a month for 12 or 13 months to help cover the cost of the treatment.

4 kathy March 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I almost forgot… my daughter said while on Vivitrol she had no cravings what-so-ever. I know the packaging doesn’t say that, but from our experience the blocking of cravings is very true.

5 Sandy June 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Where can you get the pill ? Will my family doctor prescribe the pill ? Is it monthly prescription. Why is it so hard to get the shot and what is the reason besides money does your doctor does not prefer the shot over the pills.

6 recoveryhelpdesk June 30, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Sandy, You can get the pill prescribed by your family doctor. Your doctor can prescribe it monthly. Doctors often want to start out with pills before offering the shot. They may want to make sure the patient isn’t allergic to the medication, and to see if this less costly and less physically intrusive alternative is effective before offering the shot. Tom

7 T0715 original August 9, 2013 at 4:52 am

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8 Cinda Wentworth May 2, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Why is it so difficult to find a provider to prescribe the Vivitrol shot?

I live in northern NH and cannot find a provider. Everywhere I call does not do it any longer or they are not taking any new clients.

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