How Vivitrol Works

VIVITROL is an opioid antagonist1

Opioid antagonists block opioids, like morphine or heroin, from attaching to opioid receptors. If opioids are taken at the same time they will not create an opioid "high" or relieve pain.

The antagonist is like a key that fits in a lock (the receptor) but does not open (activate) the lock. It just stops another key (the opioid) from fitting into and opening the lock.

How VIVITROL works with opioid dependence1,2

VIVITROL is an opioid antagonist with highest affinity for the mu opioid receptor. Occupation of opioid receptors by naltrexone may block the effects of endogenous opioid peptides. It markedly attenuates or completely blocks, reversibly, the subjective effects of exogenous opioids.

With opioid dependence, VIVITROL blocks excessive stimulation of the dopamine reward system
Excessive Stimulation of the Dopamine
Reward System Is Blocked
=
Endogenous
Opioid
=
Opioid
=
VIVITROL

How VIVITROL works with alcohol dependence1,2

Although the mechanism of action in alcohol dependence is not fully understood, this blockade is thought to prevent the increased dopamine release responsible for the pleasurable reinforcing effects of alcohol.

With alcohol dependence, VIVITROL blocks excessive stimulation of the dopamine reward system
Excessive Stimulation of the Dopamine
Reward System Is Blocked
=
Endogenous Opioid
=
VIVITROL

VIVITROL is not right for everyone. There are significant risks from VIVITROL treatment, including risk of opioid overdose, injection site reactions and sudden opioid withdrawal. See Important Safety Information below.

VIVITROL IS ADMINISTERED

After detox

It is recommended that patients stop taking opioids or opioid-containing medications for a minimum of 7–10 days before starting VIVITROL to avoid precipitation of opioid withdrawal that may be severe enough to require hospitalization. If the healthcare provider deems a more rapid transition from agonist to antagonist therapy appropriate, the participant may be closely monitored in an appropriate medical setting where precipitated withdrawal can be managed. Alcohol-dependent participants should not be actively drinking.1

By a healthcare provider

Physicians and other healthcare professionals play a critical role on the road to recovery, from determining if a patient is ready for VIVITROL, to working with the extended care team to engage in treatment discussions.

With counseling

No medication-assisted treatment (MAT) will address the psychological attachment a patient has formed to opioids.3 This is why counseling from a therapist who understands addiction is important.4

Why is counseling an essential part of treatment with VIVITROL?

Counseling treats the psychological aspects of the disease and may address the following5:

  • Patient’s motivation to change
  • Replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding ones
  • Building skills to resist drug use and prevent relapse
  • Incentives for abstinence3

EFFICACY AND SAFETY

Learn more about the benefits and risks of VIVITROL.

View the data

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Explore information about how alcohol and opioids affect the brain, and how medication-assisted treatment may help.

See more information

Considering VIVITROL Treatment for your program

Learn more about incorporating VIVITROL and counseling into your program.

Is VIVITROL right for the individuals in your
program?

VIVITROL is not right for everyone. There are significant risks from VIVITROL treatment, including but not limited to, risk of opioid overdose, injection site reaction and sudden opioid withdrawal. See Important Safety Information below.

References:

  1. VIVITROL [prescribing information]. Waltham, MA: Alkermes, Inc; rev December 2015.
  2. Kosten TR, George TP. The neurobiology of opioid dependence: implications for treatment. Sci Pract Perspect. 2002;1(1):13-20.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: a Research-based Guide. 3rd ed. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. NIH publication No. 12-4180. December 2012. https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/675-principles-of-drug-addiction-treatment-a-research-based-guide-third-edition.pdf. Accessed November 17, 2016.
  4. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse: Administrative Issues in Outpatient Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 46. DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4151. 2006.
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The facts about naltrexone for the treatment of opioid addiction. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4444. Printed 2009; revised 2012.