Using Vivitrol (Naltrexone) To Overcome Heroin Addiction

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on July 6, 2021

Vivitrol (naltrexone) is one common medication used in medication-assisted treatment programs for heroin. When used in combination with behavioral therapies, this can be a very effective medication in achieving long-term recovery.

Using Vivitrol In Heroin Addiction Treatment

Vivitrol, known by its generic name as naltrexone, is an extended-release medication used to treat both alcohol use disorders (AUD) and opioid use disorders (OUD).

Those coming off heroin can benefit from naltrexone because it blocks the euphoric effects of heroin, greatly reducing the chance of relapse.

A unique feature of naltrexone is that once a person takes it, either orally or intravenously, if they do use heroin again, they won’t feel euphoria.

Learn more about medication-assisted treatment for heroin addiction

How Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Helps In Heroin Addiction Recovery

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the activation of opioids.

While treatments using methadone or Suboxone may treat the symptoms of withdrawal, naltrexone treats an OUD by preventing the rewarding effects of opioids altogether.

Vivitrol (Naltrexone) And Behavioral Therapy For Heroin Recovery

Vivitrol is most effective when it’s used as a component of a larger, comprehensive treatment plan.

A person in recovery will receive daily or monthly doses of Vivitrol and participate in behavioral therapy.

This approach gives those in recovery a greater chance at sobriety, as it strengthens family and social structures, recovery skills needed to succeed, and other points of success.

Many MAT programs will feature some of the following:

  • a variety of therapies, such as group and individual
  • family services and classes
  • AA groups
  • vocational services

U.S. regulations and legislation have made psychosocial services a required part of MAT.

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Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Dosing For Heroin Drug Treatment

The average dose is about 50 milligrams (mg) per day, but treatment plans vary depending on the person. A person may also receive a single dose intravenously once a month.

A single 50 mg tablet will block the effects of heroin for 24 to 36 hours.

A medical professional may administer an initial dose of 25 mg, then another 25 mg an hour later, and a total of 350 mg weekly after that.

Is Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Effective In Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Naltrexone is an effective treatment method.

A placebo-controlled trial found that naltrexone helped with:

  • treatment retention
  • a decrease in drug cravings
  • a decreased relapse rate

But researchers have also found that poor treatment adherence can affect the effectiveness of naltrexone.

How Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Works In Heroin MAT Programs

A person must be fully sober before receiving naltrexone treatment. A minimum of seven to 10 days of sobriety must be met.

And because the euphoric sensations of opioids are being blocked by naltrexone, a person may be more likely to overdose on heroin if they use it.

If a relapse occurs, a person may have an increased sensitivity to opioids at the same or lower doses than they’re used to, which can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.

Can Using Vivitrol (Naltrexone) To Treat Heroin Abuse Cause Addiction?

Naltrexone is not an opioid, so it’s not addictive and does not cause withdrawal symptoms.

Studies have proven that naltrexone does not have addictive potential and tolerance does not develop.

It’s safe to use, as it has no known serious adverse effects if it’s used in recommended doses.

Find Heroin Addiction Treatment Today

If you’d like to learn more about Vivitrol treatment for yourself or your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Our representatives can talk you through factors like medical insurance, rehab centers, MAT programs, and much more. Call our helpline today to find a heroin addiction treatment program today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on July 6, 2021
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