Exploring Vivitrol: How It Works to Combat Alcoholism

5 minutes Written by Jessica Rundle Conell

Did you know that alcohol contributes to the many deaths in the US every year? In fact, more than 140,000 people lose their lives to alcohol-related issues. a widespread problem that affects individuals and communities around the world. For those struggling with alcohol addiction, finding effective treatment options is very important to start living a life of sobriety. One such treatment method that has been seen to be very effective in recent years is Vivitrol. In this article, we will explore Vivitrol’s mechanism and understand how it works to help alcoholism.

Understanding Alcoholism

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is a chronic condition that includes the inability to control or stop drinking despite understanding and facing negative consequences. It affects a person’s health on various planes, i.e., physical, social, and psychological well-being. This is why approaching the issue of alcoholism needs holistic treatment that involves a combination of therapy, support groups, and medications.

What is Vivitrol (Naltrexone)?

Vivitrol, also known by its generic name naltrexone, is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. It belongs to a class of medications called opioid antagonists. This medication has gained popularity because it is an effective medication for both addictive substances, i.e., alcohol and opioids.

How does Vivitrol Work

Primarily, Vivitrol works by hindering the effects of opioids and alcohol on certain opioid receptors in the brain, a property peculiar to opioid antagonists. It binds to these receptors, preventing opioids and alcohol from producing effects like euphoria that can encourage a person to drink more. As it curbs the cravings, an addict is better able to cope with the withdrawal symptoms and avoid alcohol. Thus, it can be said that Vivitrol reduces the cravings for alcohol, making it easier for individuals to abstain from drinking.

Unlike some other medications that are employed to treat alcoholism, such as disulfiram, Vivitrol has not been shown to cause negative physical reactions if you drink on it. Instead, it focuses on reducing the rewarding effects of alcohol, which can help individuals break the cycle of addiction.

Administration and Dosage

Vivitrol comes as a long-acting injection that can be administered once a month. This long-acting formula causes the solution to release slowly, thereby making it stay for as long as a month. This ensures continuous coverage. It is also helpful because patients do not have to worry about taking a pill regularly and having scares if they forget to.

The  Vivitrol medication is also available as a pill. It is just as effective but you need to follow the directions of your doctor. Rather than choosing yourself, listen to your doctor to get the most efficacious results. 

Usually, Vivitrol’s first dose is given following a period of abstinence from alcohol, ideally 7 to 10 days. By doing so, it will be certain that the person is no longer physically dependent on alcohol. Along with Vivitrol, ongoing counseling and support are crucial parts of treatment.

How Effective Is Naltrexone?

Vivitrol has been shown to be beneficial in lowering alcohol consumption and encouraging sobriety in numerous studies. It has been discovered to be very beneficial in lowering relapse rates and the number of days with heavy drinking. An experiment showed that 86%  of those who took part in the Vivitrol program were able to lessen the use of alcohol at the completion of the program drastically. Combining Vivitrol with counseling, support groups, and behavioral therapy can be very beneficial. As Vivitrol helps with the physical cravings, counseling can improve the mental effects of alcohol or opioids. Therefore, opting for a holistic treatment is even better for everyone. 

Vivitrol also doesn’t have any addictive qualities and doesn’t cause physical dependence. Compared to other drugs used to treat alcoholism, this makes it a safer option. It is a very effective antidote to alcohol and opioid addiction. 

Side Effects and Considerations

Like any medication, Vivitrol is also not free of side effects. Despite being a well-tolerated drug that has the nod of approval from the FDA, keeping in mind the side effects is very important. The most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Injection site reactions
  • Constipation

Vivitrol can result in serious side effects even though they are rare. This may include:

  • Damage to the liver damage
  • Having allergic reactions like swelling of the tongue to Vivitrol

Therefore, it is important to discuss any existing medical conditions or medications with a healthcare professional before starting Vivitrol. NEVER self-medicate. It can be very dangerous for your health. The most important thing is to listen to your body. In case of any serious reactions, consult your doctor so that things can be taken care of. 


A medicine called Vivitrol provides a potentially effective strategy for overcoming alcoholism. It can aid people in their recovery by lowering alcohol cravings and preventing alcohol’s rewarding effects. To achieve the best results, Vivitrol should be utilized in conjunction with treatment, counseling, and support systems. Consult a healthcare provider if you or someone you know is experiencing alcoholism to see if Vivitrol might be a good solution for you. Keep in mind that healing is achievable with the correct care and support.

Avatar Jessica Rundle Conell

Written by Jessica Rundle Conell

Jessica Rundle Conell is a therapist in Montana and New Jersey who specializes in couples, family, group and individual therapy.