Addiction is a life-crippling disease that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the US alone, contend with. In fact, drugs have killed almost 1 million people since 1999. Alcohol, a widely normalized substance with tremendously harmful effects on the brain and body, causes 10 percent of deaths of people aged 15-49. Although drugs and alcohol have a deadly grip on our society, there are viable options to treat addictions of all intensities. These methods have, to date, included cognitive and behavioral therapies, contingency management, interventions, etc. However, with the emergence of modern medicine, so too has emerged medication-assisted treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Medication-assisted treatment refers to using medication to treat withdrawal symptoms and discomfort, to reduce — and even extinguish — the drug or alcohol use of patients. To generalize, the drugs used during MAT mimic the effects of the substances that patients are abusing. Most MAT drugs do this by blocking certain receptors in the brain, negating the intoxication of the abused substance. Over a short time, this reverses the brain’s expectations of the neurochemical high of a substance. This helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and discomforts, as well as cravings.
Some argue that the addition of a new drug, even when used to treat the abuse of another drug, is simply replacing one addiction with a new one. This, however, is mostly inaccurate. Drugs used during MAT are significantly less addictive than substances like fentanyl or oxycontin. Not to mention, they are drastically less harmful substances, regardless.
The FDA has approved 4 drugs for opioid addiction recovery, 3 drugs for tobacco addiction, and 3 drugs for alcohol addiction. There are also some on the way for methamphetamines, or amphetamine-type substances. With that being said, some MAT drugs can become addictive over time, so it’s important to have a trained professional to monitor and advise you during treatment.
What is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is an injectable alternative to the medication naltrexone. Naltrexone works by blocking endorphin and opioid receptors in the brain and body to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
However, Vivitrol is unlike other medications used to assist addiction treatment. In contrast to drugs like buprenorphine and methadone, Vivitrol is a non-addictive, non-narcotic medication. Unlike traditional MAT drugs, naltrexone — more specifically its injectable name brand, Vivitrol — should be used after a patient has effectively quit a substance. It is not recommended that Vivitrol be administered while one is currently consuming drugs or alcohol heavily. It is also recommended that Vivitrol be used only with other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or other medication-assisted treatment plans.
Instead, Vivitrol should be given to patients once through the detox process, to keep said patients off their substance of choice. By significantly minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal, and attacking one’s propensity to cravings, Vivitrol injections can be incredibly useful to prevent relapses during sobriety. Vivitrol is administered once a month in a healthcare setting, as an intramuscular injection.
We Can Help You Overcome
Vivitrol has some notable side effects, especially when used in a less-than-ideal setting, i.e. while still consuming drugs and alcohol heavily. Side effects include headaches, dizziness, and upper abdomen pain. However, Vivitrol is an incredible medication to help keep people clean from harmful substances such as opioids, methamphetamine, and alcohol.
If you or a loved one is addicted to any substance, please reach out to us. We can help you decide if Vivitrol is a viable option for you or your loved one’s recovery, and what other options are suitable.