Precipitated Withdrawal From Vivitrol

Vivitrol is an addiction treatment medication that can cause a rapid onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms in people with opioids in their system. Before starting Vivitrol, an individual should be opioid-free for at least seven to 10 days.

Precipitated Withdrawal Caused By Vivitrol

Vivitrol (naltrexone) is treatment for opioid use disorder and alcoholism that can precipitate opioid withdrawal symptoms in people who have opioid drugs in their system.

This includes drugs such as:

  • heroin
  • fentanyl
  • oxycodone
  • codeine
  • morphine

Precipitated withdrawal is a severe form of opioid withdrawal syndrome. To avoid this, Vivitrol should not be taken until at least seven to 14 days after a person’s last opioid use.

Learn more about using Vivitrol in addiction treatment

How Does Vivitrol Cause Precipitated Withdrawal?

Vivitrol is a type of drug known as an opioid antagonist. This means it blocks off opioid receptors in the brain that other opioid drugs will try to bind to.

If Vivitrol is taken after recent use of an opioid drug, this could trigger a rapid onset of severe opioid withdrawal symptoms, as a result of Vivitrol’s blockade effect.

Opioid withdrawal, while typically not dangerous, may require hospitalization if it is precipitated by the use of an antagonist medication like Vivitrol or naloxone (Narcan).

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Signs And Symptoms Of Precipitated Withdrawal From Vivitrol

Precipitated withdrawal is a form of drug withdrawal that can be more severe than standard instances of a person getting off opioid drugs.

That is, while detoxing from opioids like heroin or OxyContin can be highly uncomfortable, precipitated withdrawal from the early use of Vivitrol can have additional complications.

Symptoms of precipitated opioid withdrawal might include:

  • excessive vomiting
  • severe diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • fever
  • altered level of consciousness
  • agitation
  • rapid heartbeat
  • dilated pupils
  • bone and muscle pain
  • full-body pain
  • seizures

How Long Do You Need To Be Off Opioids To Begin Vivitrol?

Before taking Vivitrol, individuals should be opioid-free for at least seven days, or up to 14 days.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • For short-acting opioids: at least seven days
  • For long-acting opioids: at least 10 to 14 days

Long-acting opioids, such as methadone, stay in the body longer than short-acting drugs.

For this reason, someone who has taken a long-acting opioid will need to wait longer before starting Vivitrol for opioid or alcohol treatment.

How To Avoid Precipitated Withdrawal From Vivitrol

The rule of thumb for preventing precipitated withdrawal is to be fully detoxed from opioids before starting Vivitrol treatment and to avoid using opioids during treatment.

Vivitrol treatment is not recommended for people who:

  • are physically dependent on opioids
  • are taking an opioid analgesic
  • have a positive urine screen for opioids
  • have relapsed to opioid use

Before getting a Vivitrol shot, be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have taken an opioid drug within the past one to two weeks.

Find Help For Opioid Dependence Today

Vivitrol is a medication that can support individuals in recovery from alcohol and opioid addiction, alongside additional behavioral and social support services.

For more information about Vivitrol, or how to find addiction treatment, call us today to connect with a specialist to discuss available treatment options.

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