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Vivitrol – Is it really a good way to get off drugs or alcohol?

Vivitrol, a drug that blocks opioid receptors to prevent a person from getting high on narcotic prescription painkillers, heroin and other opiate drugs, is now being given to addicts who appear in Ohio’s drug courts. It’s being touted as a big success. One addict said she can barely remember what it was like to be an addict. BUT, people taking Vivitrol have to keep taking it every month in order for the effect to last. And it’s loaded with side effects and other complications. Is that real rehabilitation?

Vivitrol, a brand name for naltroxone, is a sustained release drug given by injection. It continues creating its effect for one month, then you need another injection.

And it is not without side effects and other complications:

  1. You become less tolerant of opioids. So, if you take an opioid drug while on Vivitrol and take the same amount as you’re used to taking, you could overdose. Your body can no longer tolerate that amount. The Vivitrol warnings say taking opioids could cause “accidental overdose, serious injury, coma, or death.” You’re especially susceptible to overdose as the month goes on. The closer you get to the next dosage date, the more susceptible you are.
  2. The Vivitrol warnings also say that you could experience a number of side effects at the injection site, including:
  • intense pain
  • the area feels hard
  • swelling
  • lumps
  • blisters
  • an open wound
  • a dark scab
  • and even tissue death
  1. You have to stop taking whatever drug you’re on 7 to 14 days before taking Vivitrol because Vivitrol can cause rapid withdrawal, which is medically dangerous and could send you to the hospital. So … which is it, 7 or 14? How does the person taking it know? How does their doctor know? How can that be avoided?
  1. Vivitrol can also cause severe liver damage or hepatitis. So you have to watch out for symptoms like:
  • Stomach area pain lasting more than a few days
  • yellowing of the whites of your eyes
  • dark urine
  • tiredness
  1. Also listed as side effects are:
  • depression — which, says the Vivitrol website, sometimes this leads to suicide or suicidal thoughts and behavior.
  • allergic pneumonia —shortness of breath, wheezing, or a cough that doesn’t go away.
  • serious allergic reactions — like skin rash; swelling of your face, eyes, mouth, or tongue; trouble breathing or wheezing; chest pain; or are feeling dizzy or faint.
  • nausea
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • decreased appetite
  • painful joints
  • muscle cramps
  • cold symptoms
  • trouble sleeping
  • toothache
  1. And what happens if you have an accident, injury or dental work that requires painkillers? It’s going to be hard to relieve your pain if you’re taking Vivitrol because you can easily overdose on the painkillers. Plus, the painkiller isn’t likely to work because the Vivitrol is blocking the opioid receptors that the painkiller has to reach for you to not feel the pain.

Why not just go to a good drug addiction treatment center and get off the drugs once and for all? Why continue to accept a substitute when real rehabilitation is available?

Not only does a good drug rehab program get you off the drugs – all drugs – you also address why you took drugs and got addicted in the first place and how you’re going to change your life so you’re no longer even tempted.

Nothing takes the place of true rehabilitation. Getting yourself ‘back’. If we continue to accept other drugs as substitutes, we’ll continue to go from one drug to another and have drug epidemics of one sort or another.

If you’re considering Vivitrol, or someone you know is, go over this information and decide whether you want to trade one drug for another, of if you actually want to get the drug monkey off your back.

If you need help, call us.

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