Many treatment centers in West Virginia offer naltrexone as a form of medication-assisted treatment. However, for naltrexone to be fully effective, it must be part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

Medical professionals will only prescribe naltrexone to patients that demonstrate dedication to working towards sobriety. This includes completely changing their mindset by ceasing excuses that may have hindered treatment in the past.

If you or someone you love is considering using naltrexone as part of an addiction treatment program in West Virginia, you should learn more about the benefits and risks

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a prescription medication that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid and alcohol addiction. It comes as an injectable or pill form.

The pill form of naltrexone (known as ReVia or Depade) should be taken at 50 mg once per day. The injectable extended-release form of the medication (known as Vivitrol) is injected at 380 mg intramuscular once per month.

Naltrexone is prescribed by health care providers who are authorized to prescribe medications. Patients are advised to refrain from any opioids for at least  7-10 days before starting naltrexone to decrease any withdrawal symptoms.

For those patients who are switching from methadone to naltrexone, the body must be completely withdrawn from any opioids.

Recovering from opioid or alcohol addiction is not an easy or quick process. But with medications like naltrexone and a variety of addiction treatment options, people can get help while being supported each step of the way.

Naltrexone for Alcohol Abuse

Naltrexone reduces the cravings for alcohol in individuals that suffer from alcohol use disorder. It is unclear exactly how naltrexone works in the brain to stop alcohol consumption. However, it does appear naltrexone alters the way alcohol affects those who take it.

Using naltrexone might cause adverse side effects, which usually disappear once the body adjusts to the medication. Those who are taking naltrexone and are experiencing side effects should consult their treatment specialist to make changes. Some of the adverse side effects of naltrexone include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Mild abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep problems
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping

Some more severe side effects of naltrexone include:

  • Liver damage- Naltrexone could cause liver damage. It is advised to seek evaluation if experiencing signs or symptoms of liver disease.
  • Injection site reactions- This can occur from injecting naltrexone. It is recommended to seek an evaluation for worsening skin reactions.
  • Allergic pneumonia- Naltrexone could cause allergic pneumonia. It is suggested to seek an evaluation if experiencing signs and symptoms of pneumonia.

Always communicate with your healthcare or addiction treatment provider regarding possible side effects before starting naltrexone. This helps in clarifying any questions or concerns regarding taking naltrexone.

Side Effects of Mixing Naltrexone

Naltrexone can cause harmful side effects when mixed with other meds like prescribed and over-the-counter supplements or herbal remedies. Some conventional medicines that counteract with naltrexone include:

  • Disulfiram
  • Methadone
  • Opioids
  • Specific medications for diarrhea, cough, and pain
  • Thioridazine

It is crucial to keep a list of all medications you take and talk with your physician about drug interactions from using naltrexone. Get help immediately when experiencing any adverse side effects of using naltrexone.

What happens if you take opiates while on Vivitrol?

Taking Vivitrol with opiates in your system can be dangerous and life-threatening due to the high risk of overdose. Because Vivitrol is controlling the opiate receptors within the brain, it also blocks the effects of these medications.

People who start using opiates on Vivitrol might take higher doses to feel the effects. This could lead them to take a toxic amount of drugs, leading to loss of consciousness, coma, and even a fatal overdose.

Vivitrol also increases the chances of overdose as people become more susceptible to opiate use. Vivitrol decreases a user’s opiate tolerance without them being aware of this change.

Because of these life-threatening risks of using opiates on Vivitrol, you should speak with your physician to determine if this is your best treatment option.

How much does naltrexone cost?

Naltrexone costs will differ, but the pill form usually is covered by health insurance. Some sample prices for naltrexone are:

  • Oral form: Oral naltrexone cost typically varies from $25 to $60 per month.
  • Injectable form: Injectable naltrexone is more expensive, costing $700 to $1,100 per month.

Rarely, insurance companies will ask your healthcare provider to submit authorization before they cover naltrexone.

How long does a Vivitrol shot last?

When calculating how long a Vivitrol shot lasts, you must understand its half-life. Half of the drug varies from person to person. It is the time when half the drug is metabolized and eliminated from the body.

  • Vivitrol injections are once-a-month
  • The half-life of a Vivitrol injection is 5 to 10 days
  • Usually, it takes roughly five half-lives for Vivitrol to be eliminated from the body
  • The length of Vivitrol lasting depends on how quick your body breaks it down
  • Upon injection, most of the Vivitrol leaves the body within 25 to 50 days
  • Vivitrol effects usually last about four weeks; therefore, users have required an injection once a month.

Therefore, naltrexone breaks the connection in the brain that associates drinking with pleasure. Research has shown that individuals who take naltrexone will have fewer alcoholic drinks and fewer episodes of relapse.

If you are the type of person who drinks daily, naltrexone will be probably be prescribed to take daily. However, your doctor will determine what the best treatment regime is for you.

Typically, people see the most favorable results when taken for a few months or longer. This is always in conjunction with a long term addiction treatment plan.

Naltrexone for Opioid Addiction

Naltrexone can be prescribed to individuals suffering from opioid use disorder. This form of naltrexone is administered as an extended-release injectable.

Medical detox from opioids must be completed at least 7 to 10 days before the extended-release injectable naltrexone is received.

Studies have revealed that naltrexone reduces reactivity to triggers and helps to decrease craving. Patients who have been prescribed extended-release injectable naltrexone and have discontinued use will have a lower tolerance to opioids. Therefore, the user might be ignorant of their potential sensitivity of using the same opioid dose that they took previously.

Extended-release naltrexone is most successful when coupled with a comprehensive management program and psychosocial care

How is Naltrexone Beneficial?

Usually, opioids will give the user a feeling of pleasure and pain relief. But, when using naltrexone, these feelings become blocked. Over time, users will recapture a substance-free thinking process, which will allow them to focus on developing a more healthy lifestyle.

Although naltrexone is prescribed to treat opioid addiction, it might not cease cravings. Because of this reason, naltrexone is recommended for people who have completed the detox and withdrawal stage and are driven to continue their recovery process.

If you experience any opioid cravings while using naltrexone, immediately alert your doctor or treatment specialist.

People will usually become more sensitive to lower doses of opioids after using naltrexone, so it is crucial to refrain from using drugs following medication-assisted treatment. Going back to using heroin or any other opiate may cause severe complications, including overdose.

Common Side Effects of Naltrexone

Medications for Addictions

Otherwise known as “medication-assisted treatment (MAT), naltrexone may be given as part of a more extensive medication therapy program for an individual. Naltrexone is part of comprehensive treatment that also encompasses several forms of therapy to treat addiction.

Medication-assisted programs are often part of a long-term recovery strategy. Long after a person leaves an addiction treatment facility, they can continue to take medications for addictions.

Where Can I Get Naltrexone?

The right way to inquire into naltrexone is by contacting your primary care provider and see if they offer Vivitrol injections or the pill form of naltrexone. If they don’t prescribe you Vivitrol doses, they might offer to prescribe naltrexone pills.

Another way is by using the Vivitrol website to find a provider. If you’re enlisted in residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program, your counselor might have a record of providers that offer Vivitrol.

To take Vivitrol safely, opioid use must stop 7 to 10 days before the injection. Therefore, you should tell your doctor about your interest in Vivitrol well in advance. Hence, there’s enough time to discontinue opioid use, and your doctor will have time to obtain the medication.

Common Questions About Naltrexone

There are three brand names of naltrexone, ReVia, Vivitrol, and Depade.

Both ReVia and Depade are pill forms of naltrexone that can be taken daily at home or in front of your healthcare professional. ReVia and Depade can be used to treat opioid and alcohol addiction.

The dosage received is based on your current medical condition. Your doctor will probably start you at a lower dose of ReVia and monitor you for any side effects before increasing your dose. This medication is most effective when it’s taken at the same time daily.

Vivitrol is the injectable form of naltrexone that is administered monthly. Vivitrol can be used for individuals suffering from either opioid or alcohol use disorder.

The pill form of naltrexone (ReVia or Depade) offers more control over an individual’s recovery. It’s also much easier to administer since its a pill that can be taken at home. However, Vivitrol only needs to be administered every four weeks. This can be more convenient for someone who doesn’t want to have to worry about taking medication daily.

Is Vivitrol addictive?

Luckily, Vivitrol is a non-addictive medication that carries a low risk of abuse. The drug doesn’t cause euphoria and won’t get the user high. Even if Vivitrol did get people high, it would rarely be abused due to its access being so strictly monitored.

While medicated addiction treatment methods are questionable, Vivitrol doesn’t carry the same risks as other medications that are used to treat opioid and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Users cannot abuse or get high on Vivitrol to the same extent as methadone or Suboxone.

What’s the difference between Vivitrol and Sublocade?

The downside of Vivitrol is that you can’t start it right away. The patient must wait 7-10 days before using the medication. Therefore, Vivitrol is ideal with residential treatment programs. If the patient has already been clean a couple of weeks during rehab, Vivitrol is the right choice.

Vivitrol is also better accepted by the recovery community because it is a non-narcotic.

Sublocade works excellent for the opioid-addicts living on their own. It is common for opioid addict patients to maintain their work and home life while using the medication. Sublocade is a better option for people who can’t leave their careers and families for weeks and months to attend rehab.

Concerning the recovery community, the speculation about Suboxone and Sublocade is changing. These drugs are starting to be accepted as part of a new recovery tool.

What’s the difference between Vivitrol and Suboxone?

Vivitrol and Suboxone both help to reduce cravings and defend against relapse. But, Vivitrol might be harder to start because it requires at least 7-10 days of opioid abstinence. When deciding between either drug to reduce opioid use: Suboxone is the more suitable choice during outpatient treatment, while both Vivitrol and Suboxone will fare similarly during inpatient treatment.

Neither of these medications is a cure. More than half of the people who used them had relapsed during the six-month trial. Therefore, more research is required with recovery support services that can be combined with these prescription meds to enhance their outcomes.

Get Help Today

Medication-assisted treatments are debatable due to the risk of the medications becoming addictive. Thankfully, our team here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center can help you in understanding that medication-assisted treatments are an excellent tool in treating addiction. Our recovery staff is highly trained and certified in providing necessary care, which incorporates medication-assisted treatment in our therapy programs.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, our team here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center can in reobtaining a healthy lifestyle. Contact us today to have all questions and concerns answered so that you can make a potential lifesaving decision.

References

https://www.vivitrol.com/opioid-dependence/what-is-vivitrol

https://www.vivitrol.com/alcohol-dependence

https://www.westvirginiactc.com/vivitrol/

https://riahealth.com/2018/08/24/whats-it-like-to-drink-alcohol-while-on-naltrexone/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326499#uses

https://www.smartrecovery.org/what-is-medication-assisted-treatment-mat/