What are the Side Effects of Vivitrol?

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Table of Contents

Vivitrol is a medication used to help people dealing with substance use. It prevents the brain from feeling the desirable effects of drugs and alcohol, which reduces a person’s dependency. Vivitrol is proven to work, but there are some side effects that should be considered before taking this medication. While not all side effects of Vivitrol are dangerous, it is important to know what to look out for.

Addiction is a disease that requires medical assistance in most cases and it is extremely important to get help from a professional. If you or a loved one may be suffering from substance abuse, seek out treatment as soon as possible.

Common Side Effects of Vivitrol

Vivitrol works on the body systems that tend to be the most affected when people are using substances. In the case of opioids, this medication blocks the effect that opioids have on the brain. However, it also blocks the effect of natural opioids synthesized by the body which makes it difficult for the natural pain-relief system of the body to perform at full efficiency. This can lead to pain or discomfort for a person who is taking Vivitrol.

While different people might feel different side effects, the more common side effects of Vivitrol include

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pains
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Chills
  • Mild dysphoria (profound state of unease or dissatisfaction)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weakness
  • Toothache
  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Eosinophilic pneumonia (pneumonia caused by elevated eosinophil white blood cells)
  • Hypertension
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Profuse sweating
  • Reduced feelings of social connection
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Blisters
  • Lightheadedness

Side Effects of a Serious Vivitrol Reaction

There are some symptoms that could be hallmarks of a more serious reaction to Vivitrol. Should this be the case, seek medical care at the soonest time possible. The symptoms most associated with a serious Vivitrol reaction are

  • Vision loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Persistent muscle stiffness
  • High fever

Psychological Side Effects of Vivitrol

Some people have a greater tendency to be affected by the adverse psychological effects of Vivitrol, with the most prominent effect being depression, although there have been rare instances where some people admitted to suffering from

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Persistent melancholy
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Inclination to self-harm

Side Effects of a Vivitrol Injection

As this medication is administered intramuscularly, people could also expect pain, bruising, swelling, rashes, and itching at the injection site. Should there be persistent itching, there is a possibility that there is an infection at the injection site. People that suffer from a Vivitrol injection may experience

  • Cellulitis
  • Induration (localized hardening of soft tissue)
  • Hematoma
  • Abscess
  • Sterile abscess
  • Necrosis (death of body tissue)

Side Effects of Vivitrol Mixed With Drugs or Alcohol

Vivitrol should not be given to people who have not stopped using opioids or alcohol, or might still have these substances in their system. This is because people could feel immediate withdrawal symptoms should there still be alcohol or opioids inside their bodies. Combining Vivitrol with drugs or alcohol could lead to a very painful and very dangerous situation.

Should Vivitrol be administered to someone who still has opioids or alcohol in their body, they could feel any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Derealization (alteration or distortion of perception of the outside world)
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Severe vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Your primary care provider should be notified should these symptoms appear. Dangers such as dehydration due to excessive fluid loss from severe vomiting and diarrhea may result from mixing these substances. While it is rare, there are also instances where people using Vivitrol develop liver issues such as hepatitis. This is why physicians who recommend Vivitrol typically require liver function tests before the medication is administered. From the observed cases, liver issues usually occur when large doses are administered.

When Should Vivitrol Be Avoided?

Vivitrol is a medication with a very specific use, and should not be taken by anyone without the express knowledge and advice of a physician. This medication has a specific action that produces specific effects relevant to what it is taken for. There are people with certain conditions that should not take Vivitrol, including

  • People using opioid-based analgesics
  • People who have not detoxed yet from an opioids addiction
  • People currently undergoing opioid withdrawal
  • People with an allergy to the active ingredients of Vivitrol (polylactide-co-glycolide (PLG), carboxymethylcellulose)
  • People diagnosed with severe liver disease or hepatitis

It is extremely important to note that people who currently have an opioid addiction must not take Vivitrol because of the inherent effect of this medication. Vivitrol blocks the sensations typically experienced when taking opioids, so someone with an active opioid addiction may try to take even more opioids just to feel the high. This will most likely lead to a potentially fatal overdose.

Does Vivitrol Interact with Other Medications?

There are certain medications that should not be taken along with Vivitrol as this could lead to an adverse interaction.

There are numerous medications that could interact with Vivitrol. Listed below are the more common ones. If you are on any of the following medications while also taking Vivitrol, consult with your doctor

  • Methadone (Methadose)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla Er)
  • Methylnaltrexone (Relistor)
  • Naldemedine (Symproic)
  • Naloxegol (Movantik)
  • Codeine/Chlorpheniramine (Tuzistra Xr)
  • Dronabinol (Marinol, Syndros)
  • Nabilone (Cesamet)
  • Disulfiram
  • Anticoagulants (Warfarin, Enoxaparin)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify, Aristada)
  • Salbutamol (Albuterol)
  • Clonidine (Catapres)
  • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Prozac, Sarafem, Wellbutrin, Zyban)
  • Anticonvulsant (Gabapentin/Neurontin)
  • Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone)

Is Vivitrol Effective in Opioid and Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

In most cases wherein the medication-assisted treatment is used, the patient typically has a very difficult time with the cravings and urges that persist well past detox. These urges, along with the stress of trying to integrate into a normal life, often push a person in recovery back into using substances.

It should be noted, however, that Vivitrol is a medication for people who are having difficulty fighting off the urges to use opioids or alcohol. It is not for people who have already suffered a relapse and have gone back into using substances.

Vivitrol is effective because it nullifies the best sensation that people get from using drugs and alcohol. This medication blocks the sensation of euphoria that people crave so much. Having blocked this sensation, it also kills the longing associated with the effect of both opioids and alcohol.

Opioid Addiction

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Opioids are among the most highly addictive substances that people have gotten hooked on, and trying to get off them is immensely difficult for most. This is because of two primary effects that opioids have on the people that use them.

First, opioids affect the reward system in the brain, which is the system that is associated with good feelings. This may include eating, sleeping, engaging in sex, and exercising. The brain’s reward system activates naturally, but opioids allow people to have control over this situation. Instead of maintaining healthy habits to feel happy, people take opioids to experience this feeling.

Second, opioids affect the pain-relieving mechanism of the body. Although humans feel pain, there is also a system that kicks in soon after to help soothe the pain. However, there are instances where the pain is too great for the pain relief system to deal with. Some conditions or injuries also bring chronic pain, and while the natural pain relief system of the body might be up to dealing with it, the persistent and repetitive occurrence of pain is something people would be much better off without.

It is no surprise that opioids are highly addictive as they take away the pain and give people a feeling of euphoria. Once the body gets used to this, getting rid of the addiction is immensely difficult. This is why medications like Vivitrol exist.

There is Hope for a Real and Lasting Recovery at Jaywalker

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Here at Jaywalker, we understand how difficult treatment can be for those in recovery. We know the urges and cravings don’t stop once a person leaves rehab. These shadows could haunt people long after they have left the treatment facility. In many cases, it’s an everyday battle.

We want you to know it’s not a battle you have to face alone. We have helped people through their personal battles this way, and we could help you. We use our experience to find the best way to deal with the struggle and ensure a lasting and true recovery. We also understand that each case could be different, which is why we pay attention to each individual and to whatever difficulties are present because this is how a fitting treatment is found.

Finding addiction treatment is necessary, especially if you notice it is affecting your daily life. If you or a loved one may be interested in an effective treatment program, contact us today!

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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