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How Does Vivitrol Work?

Vivitrol is an opioid receptor antagonist. It binds to opioid receptors, but doesn't produce any effects. Instead, it prevents other substances, such as opioid pain medications and opioid street drugs like heroin, from binding to and activating the receptors. Therefore, people who use these other drugs will not get the "high" feeling that can reinforce opioid abuse, which can help prevent a relapse.
It is not entirely clear how Vivitrol works to treat alcohol dependence. It is thought that, by blocking opioid receptors, Vivitrol also helps prevent the rewarding effects of alcohol use. This may help reduce the desire to consume alcohol.
Vivitrol is an injectable medication. The drug is contained in small spherical particles (microspheres), which are given as an injection into the muscle. After the injection is given, these microspheres slowly release the drug inside the body over a month. This is why the injections only need to be given once every four weeks.
Vivitrol is not a narcotic medication. It is not addictive, and does not cause dependence.

When and How to Use Vivitrol

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with Vivitrol include the following:
  • Vivitrol is given as an injection into a muscle (an intramuscular, or IM, injection). The injections are usually given once a month.
  • The injections must be administered by a healthcare provider, using a special needle that comes with the medication.
  • Vivitrol injections are administered into the gluteal muscle (buttocks muscle). Your healthcare provider will alternate which buttock the injection is given into each month.
  • You should not receive Vivitrol if you have taken an opioid or opioid-containing medication in the past 7 to 10 days.
  • You should carry a medical ID card or wear a medical bracelet stating you receive Vivitrol. This is important so you will receive appropriate care in the event of an emergency.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. Do not stop receiving your injections without your healthcare provider's approval.
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Vivitrol Medication Information

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