Naltrexone is a medication that is prescribed for alcohol dependence and opioid use disorder. It may be taken orally or administered intramuscularly in the form of an injection.
How to administer naltrexone depends on the formulation:
- Oral naltrexone (Revia, Depade): Taken by mouth
- Naltrexone injection (Vivitrol): Administered intramuscularly into the buttocks
Naltrexone is FDA-approved as a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option for alcohol and opiate addiction.
Proper administration of this medication can help ensure that the individual receiving it secures the maximum benefit of its use.
Administering Oral Naltrexone
Oral naltrexone (Revia) refers to naltrexone tablets, or pills. These can be prescribed by a licensed prescriber, such as a doctor, for alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence.
Naltrexone pills can be taken at home, or be offered within a rehab clinic or treatment center as part of an addiction treatment program.
Oral naltrexone is swallowed by mouth. It should not be chewed, crushed, or injected. It is typically directed for once-daily use.
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Administering Injectable Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
The extended-release injectable form of naltrexone (Vivitrol) is a naltrexone shot that is administered once-monthly. It is FDA-approved for both alcohol and opioid use disorder.
Unlike oral naltrexone, Vivitrol can only be prepared and administered by a medical professional, such as a physician, nurse, or physician’s assistant.
Vivitrol is administered by a medical professional into the upper, outer quadrant of a gluteal muscle (the buttocks), alternating sides of the buttocks for each successive injection.
What To Know About Administering Vivitrol
Here is general information about how to administer Vivitrol:
- Injection site: Vivitrol should not be administered subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously (into the vein). This could cause a severe reaction at the injection site.
- Supplies: Vivitrol comes in a kit with customized needles. Vivitrol should not be administered with any other needle.
- Frequency: Vivitrol is administered once a month, or every four weeks, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for drug or alcohol addiction.
- Opioid use: People with opioid use disorder should be opioid-free (fully detoxed from opioids) before receiving naltrexone to avoid the risk of precipitated withdrawal.
How To Administer Naltrexone FAQs
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that is prescribed to treat alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. Find answers to frequently asked questions about how to administer naltrexone.
❓ Should Naltrexone Be Taken With Food?
✔️ Oral naltrexone can be taken with or without food. Taking naltrexone with a meal may help prevent upset stomach and nausea, both of which are common side effects of naltrexone.
❓ Should Naltrexone Be Taken At Night?
✔️ There is no specified time of day for when naltrexone should be taken. For best results, take the medication as ordered by your doctor. This medication may cause drowsiness and dizziness.
❓ Who Can Administer Naltrexone?
✔️ Oral naltrexone can be taken at home, or be dispensed within a rehab clinic as part of an alcohol abuse rehab program.
Vivitrol, the injectable form of naltrexone, can only be administered by a healthcare provider. It is not available in generic form, nor is it prescribed for take-home use.
❓ What Happens After Taking Vivitrol?
✔️ Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of naltrexone that may begin to take effect about two hours following the injection. Mild side effects may occur at the injection site.
Potential side effects at the injection site may include:
- skin redness
- itchy skin
Side effects can be severe if Vivitrol isn’t administered properly. If a severe reaction occurs after receiving Vivitrol, contact your prescribing doctor for further guidance.
❓ How Often Is Naltrexone Taken?
✔️ Most people are directed to take oral naltrexone once-daily. Vivitrol is administered once a month. How often you’re directed to take naltrexone can vary on an individual basis.
Call To Find Naltrexone Treatment Options Near You
Naltrexone is one of several medications approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options for alcohol and opioid addiction.
For more information about naltrexone, or to find treatment for drug or alcohol addiction near you, call our helpline to speak to one of our staff members today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Naltrexone
- Vivitrol — Dosing & Administration for VIVITROL (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension)
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Naltrexone