A new formulation of an existing drug could be an effective treatment solution for many opiate addicts. Vivitrol, a once-a-month injection of the drug Naltrexone– a drug initially approved to help treat alcohol dependence, may be able to reduce strong cravings as well as lessen the ‘high’ experienced when a patient abuses opiates.
The major difference between Vivitrol and it’s generic counterpart, Naltrexone, is the required dosing schedule for patients. Vivitrol is administered through a once-a-month injection, while Naltrexone must be taken as a pill every day. Because both Vivitrol and Naltrexone reduce the pleasurable feelings that an opiate user experiences when taking drugs, many Naltrexone users are tempted to skip their daily pill in order to get high.
Patients committed to staying sober with Naltrexone must make the decision every single day to take their medication instead of abusing drugs. In comparison, a patient on Vivitrol only needs to make a once-monthly appointment to receive an injection of the medication. This can make it easier for many patients to stay sober, especially those who have trouble complying with a daily therapy regimen and/or often feel the temptation to relapse back into their old patterns of opiate abuse.
The Drawbacks of Vivitrol Addiction Treatment
While it has lots of promise, Vivitrol has a few drawbacks, as well. First, is it’s important to realize that Vivitrol and it’s generic Naltrexone don’t work for everyone; only a certain percentage of patients taking these medications stayed sober longer and didn’t relapse– or relapsed less often, than the general population of opiate addicts. Then, there’s the price. While Naltrexone has an insurance copay of only around $11/per month, Vivitrol often costs more than $1,100/month– and while a growing number of insurers are covering all or part of it, many still do not. This price barrier puts Vivitrol out of reach for many of the people who need it most.
It’s also important to note that if a patient is taking Naltrexone regularly and not seeing benefits, Vivitrol won’t help. The only reason why a patient taking Naltrexone could see benefits from Vivitrol is if they are skipping doses– something which is far less likely to happen with a monthly injection of Vivitrol than a daily Naltrexone pill.
Finally, potential patients should know that Vivitrol can have serious health risks for some individuals; out of approximately 45,000 patients, more than 40 people have died from liver complications potentially caused by Vivitrol– a pattern which caused the FDA to require a black box warning be printed on the medication.
While Vivitrol may be an excellent tool for some addiction sufferers, it’s not right for everyone– and patients need to be completely sober before beginning to take it. That means that for anyone suffering from opiate addiction, drug rehab is still an essential part of the rehabilitation and recovery process.
While future technologies might offer a cure for addiction, in today’s world, no pill, injection, or chemical treatment can totally replace the mental strength and force of will that a patient needs to get help and get sober. At best, medications like Vivitrol and Naltrexone are one of many treatments, including individual counseling, group therapy, exercise, nutrition, and other therapies, that a patient can use simultaneously to help them on their path to sobriety. At worst, they can be ineffective, expensive, and even deadly– so the if a patient is considering using Vivitrol, they should have an in-depth discussion with their doctor before making any decisions.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, the time to get help is now. With nearly 30 million opiate addicts worldwide, you may not be able to solve the global opiate epidemic– but you can solve the problem of your own addiction– and encourage those close to you to get help as well.
At Get Treatment, we’re passionate about showing people how to get the addiction recovery help they need. Our directory of accredited substance abuse treatment centers can help addicts at every stage of the rehabilitation and recovery process. Our treatment programs include medical opiate detox, inpatient and outpatient rehab, partial hospitalization programs and sober living services. Our top rated drug and alcohol treatment facilities can help you transform yourself into a strong, sober, and self-confident individual.
Call 855-638-9268 to speak to a dedicated admissions professional.