As CARMAhealth continues to observe Alcohol Awareness Month, we wanted to take the opportunity to touch not only on the causes, sustaining factors and impact of alcohol addiction, but also the pathways to treatment of which sufferers can avail themselves to get help and reclaim their lives. In recent years, pharmacological interventions have been an increasingly relied-upon asset in the treatment and management of alcohol use disorder, and Vivitrol® (extended-release injectable Naltrexone) has been at the center of these efforts. The primary challenge that any person in recovery for substance use disorder faces is endeavoring to stay clean in the face of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Vivitrol can be an effective weapon in combatting these and other issues related to alcohol use disorder.
What Is Vivitrol?
Also used to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) Vivitrol therapy is administered through a monthly injection of the drug naltrexone. It was first approved to treat alcohol use disorder by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. The drug has been shown to significantly reduce cravings. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that Vivitrol is not addictive. The drug is not a substitute for other elements of treatment, including behavioral rehab, detox and counseling, and it should only be administered by an experienced qualified and approved medical professional.
How Does Vivitrol Work?
When an alcoholic drinks, the brain produces more endorphins as it would with a non-alcoholic, creating the sensation of pleasure and thereby facilitating alcohol dependency. As an opioid receptor antagonist, Vivitrol binds itself to these same pleasure centers of the brain, blocking endorphins from binding to their receptors. While it is still possible to become intoxicated while using Vivitrol, the pleasure from drinking becomes markedly reduced, removing or greatly reducing the incentive. Vivitrol offers relatively little physical side effects compared to other drugs commonly used to manage symptoms of AUD; however, there may be some residual physical or psychological issues associated with use for which patients should consult their prescribing physician.
Lifestyle Benefits of Vivitrol
Vivitrol represents a prime weapon for medication-based treatment for alcohol use disorder not only because of its clinical efficacy, but also because of its lifestyle benefits. Its relatively infrequent dosage requirements means that patients don’t have to spend their lives managing their medication regimen. It also alleviates cravings enough to help users focus on the behavioral or lifestyle issues that have suffered in the wake of their excessive drinking, including family issues, career turmoil and failing romantic relationships. Successful management of these issues can often mean the difference between ongoing recovery and relapse.
CARMAhealth is an established and trusted Vivitrol provider. If you or someone you care about is suffering from alcohol use disorder, contact us today to see if Vivitrol is right for you.