Remarkable Facts About Vivitrol and Its Function

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : January 02, 
| 4 Sources

Stop Alcohol Craving
Naltrexone Side Effects

Although effective at stopping alcohol craving, injectable naltrexone is not for everybody due to its potential side effects

Vivitrol is the brand name for an injectable form of naltrexone, which is a drug that helps to stop the alcohol craving associated with alcohol dependency.

Vivitrol is used as part of a treatment program for alcohol dependence. It also helped to encourage alcohol abstinence and reduce the rate of relapse in two samples of alcohol-dependent patients.

It is mainly prescribed to those in recovery from alcoholism or opiate addiction.

It has has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for helping alcoholics overcome alcoholism since 2006 and it has recently also recently gained approval in helping those who are addicted to the opioid drugs. There is also no diversion and abuse potential with naltrexone.


Stopping Craving
The Advantages of Injectable Naltrexone

  • Naltrexone is given as an injection every four weeks. This means that alcoholics do not have to remember to take a tablet every day and cannot 'choose' not to take it in a moment of impulsiveness (a common trait of the alcoholic personality).
  • Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of both opiates and alcohol; this is because it competes so successfully for the opioid receptors in the brain. Many who who take Vivitrol (but by no means all) have said that they no longer have the wish to drink or do drugs.
  • It has been shown to have significant beneficial effects in the treatment of alcoholism, and has been licensed for use in treating alcoholism for 5 years, and there is a lot of evidence to support its use. The marketers of Vivitrol say that 45,000 people have used it since 2006.

Stop Alcohol Craving
Where to get Vivitrol

Naltrexone for injection can only be administered after alcoholism detox, and the patient must have been free of narcotics or alcohol for between 7 and 10 days before being given the drug.

The injections must be administered by a physician, as they are intramuscular gluteal injections, and so need to be precisely injected into muscle tissue.

Remember you should not take any medications unless prescribed to you by a qualified physician. These medications can be dangerous if not used correctly.

Stop Alcohol Craving
Naltrexone Side Effects

Patients with alcoholic liver disease should not be given the injectable form or the tablet form of naltrexone and all patients must take it as part of a comprehensive psychosocial support program, be it Alcoholics Anonymous or some other alcohol treatment program. It is not advisable to merely have injections of naltrexone without the support in place.

Vivitrol can cause mild to serious side effects. Side effects may include nausea or vomiting, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, anxiety and insomnia. Some patients have also had swellings and irritation in the areas where Vivitrol has been injected.

Blood tests need to be taken before the drug is administered for the first time, and then every few months to check that there are no contraindications.

If for some reason you are not able to take naltrexone, then there is an alternative anti-craving drug called nalmefene, which doesn't put such a strain on the liver and so can be taken by those suffering from alcohol-induced liver disease.

If you are an alcoholic or a friend or relation of one, it would be worth your while searching out doctors or physicians who will treat the alcohol addiction using Vivitrol.

Before you do, though, you should decide whether you are more suited to the injectable or oral from of naltrexone. For a discussion on the pros and cons of both, read naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism.

The Sinclair Method

Naltrexone, in the tablet form NOT the injectable form, is also used in the 'controversial' Sinclair method.

The Sinclair method is a form of alcoholism treatment that does not require the alcoholic to go through alcohol withdrawal and quit drinking. In short, this method involves taking naltrexone one hour before drinking alcohol.

In this way your brain blocks the opioid receptors and you will not get the 'buzz' that you normally associate with drink. As time goes by your brain will 'unlearn' its dependency on alcohol. For an in-depth discussion on this, read the Sinclair Method.

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Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Naltrexone. September 15, 2020.

UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute. What is Vivitrol?.

NCBI. Naltrexone long-acting formulation in the treatment of alcohol dependence. October 2007.

National Alliance on Mental Illness. Naltrexone (ReVia).

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