The Vivitrol Treatment Process: Intake, Rehabilitation, and Aftercare by Rehab Recovery Centers

If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid or alcohol dependence, Vivitrol treatment may be right for you. Vivitrol is a once-monthly injection of Naltrexone that is proven to help mitigate cravings and reduce the motivation to relapse. As a treatment method that works best when combined with psychotherapy, group counseling, and peer support, Vivitrol should never act as a stand-alone treatment method for addiction. Throughout the treatment process, patients will work closely with their doctor and primary clinician to monitor their progress, set goals, and make medication adjustments if necessary.

What is The Vivitrol Shot?

Vivitrol (naltrexone) is a brand name formula that is used to help people in recovery from opioid or alcohol addiction stay sober. It was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to help people recovering from alcohol use disorder, but it is also effective in treating opioid addiction. The monthly injection is extremely useful in substance abuse treatment programs because it is administered once monthly by a physician, so it is low maintenance and carries virtually no risk for abuse.

Although naltrexone is also available in oral tablet form, Vivitrol is an intramuscular injection that is rapidly gaining popularity in the addiction treatment industry. Naltrexone works by preventing the euphoric and sedating effects produced by opioids and alcohol. As a result, people who drink or use opioids while on naltrexone will be unable to achieve the desired effects. This is known to reduce the motivation to relapse, help mitigate cravings, and improve one’s ability to maintain sobriety.

The Vivitrol shot is administered once a month in the buttocks. The most common side effect of the shot is redness or irritation at the injection site, which usually subsides after a few days. Other common side effects include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, joint pain, and abdominal cramps. Unlike many other medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs, Vivitrol does not produce physical dependence, so people do not experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop receiving the shot.

Addiction Treatment with Vivitrol: What to Expect

Before patients can begin Vivitrol treatment, they must completely detox from opioids and alcohol first and be able to maintain abstinence for 7-10 days first. If people take Vivitrol too early in the course of their treatment, they may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In addition, doctors who prescribe Vivitrol must receive specialized training before they can administer FDA approved substance abuse treatment medications. Before beginning treatment with Vivitrol, it is important that you complete detox and consult with a trusted physician about the potential risks and side effects of the medication.


When you first arrive at a drug and alcohol rehab near you, you will go through the intake process. If you haven’t already completed detox, you will go do detox first. However, if you have already detoxed and are ready to begin treatment, you will work with a clinician who will develop a customized treatment plan that is unique to your individual needs. You will also meet with a doctor on staff who specializes in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). He or she will conduct a physical examination, take blood for lab tests, and consider prescribing you Vivitrol.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

If your doctor deems you eligible for Vivitrol treatment, you will begin receiving the monthly injections while participating in a substance abuse treatment program. Even though Vivitrol can help reduce cravings, it is not a sole form of addiction treatment. The medication works best when it is combined with therapies and support groups, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Holistic therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Trauma therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • 12-Step fellowships (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.)
  • Sober living
  • Alumni groups
  • Family therapy

Counseling and behavioral therapies help uncover the underlying causes of a person’s addiction, while support groups help provide guidance and hope to individuals in recovery. By combining medical care with traditional treatment therapies, rehab centers can offer a “whole-patient” approach that targets each patient’s individual needs. Patients who are receiving the Vivitrol shot may do so in an inpatient or outpatient setting depending on which level of care they require.


After completing a treatment program, some patients may continue taking Vivitrol. Others will discuss stopping the medication with their doctor. Regardless of what a person chooses to do as far as their medication goes, they should continue participating in ongoing therapy, support groups, or some form of aftercare support. If the individual continues taking Vivitrol, he or she should have regular follow up appointments with the prescribing physician to monitor their progress and adjust the dosage, if necessary. People will remain on Vivitrol anywhere from a couple of months to several years.

Benefits of Vivitrol Treatment

When combined with a comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program, Vivitrol is a highly effective medication for treating opioid and alcohol dependence. One clinical trial found that people who took Vivitrol had 25% fewer drinking days than people who received no medical treatment at all. Similarly, researchers have found that 36% of people taking Vivitrol didn’t take any opioids throughout the 24-week study. By comparison, only 23% of people who took a placebo medication didn’t use opioids.

Vivitrol works to reduce the motivation to drink and use opioids while suppressing drug and alcohol cravings. Therefore, people who take Vivitrol and participate in an addiction treatment program are able to focus on their recovery and therapy rather than thoughts of using drugs or drinking. Furthermore, SAMHSA reports that medication-assisted treatment programs are able to provide a more individualized approach, which is associated with higher treatment retention rates and more successful treatment outcomes. That being said, Vivitrol isn’t for everyone, so you should consult with an addiction specialist to determine which treatment program is right for you.

Get Connected With a Vivitrol Treatment Provider Near You

Although there is no magic cure for drug or alcohol addiction, Vivitrol and other FDA approved substance abuse treatment medications can help support individuals in recovery. Still, these medications must be used hand in hand with psychotherapy and support groups. If you or a loved one are wondering if Vivitrol is right for you, pick up the phone and give us a call today to get connected with an addiction treatment provider near you.

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