What is the Vivitrol Shot?

If you’re asking the question ‘what is the Vivitrol shot?’ it’s likely that you may have searched for it as an alternative to Suboxone or methadone treatments for opioid drug addiction or dependence. The Vivitrol shot is a specific treatment used to prevent relapse in recovering opiate addicts. Vivitrol is similar to an opiate blocker implant that slowly releases a formulation of Naltrexone over a period of time.

Naltrexone in pill form is commonly used to manage cravings and reduce the risk of relapse in recovering opiate addicts.  Naltrexone is also commonly used for the treatment of alcoholism. By comparison, the Vivitrol shot is a non-addictive medication given once a month to help prevent relapse in opioid dependent people. Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, which means it’s designed to block opioid molecules from attaching to the body’s opioid receptors.

What is the Vivitrol Shot Success Rate?

According to clinical studies (1), opioid dependent people being treated with Vivitrol in conjunction with addiction counselling had 90% opioid-free weeks. By comparison, patients receiving a placebo in conjunction with counselling reported only 35% opioid-free weeks.

The same clinical study also showed that patients reported a 55% decrease in the severity of drug cravings after completing detox. Overall, research concluded that patients being treated with what is the Vivitrol shot were 17 times less likely to relapse back into a cycle of addictive drug abuse.

Results for abstinence during studies on Vivitrol treatments were confirmed by urine drug testing, but relied on self-reported craving severity and management by the patients.

How Does the Vivitrol Shot Work?

Vivitrol is a slow-release formulation designed to block the effects of opiate medications or opioid street drugs. The Vivitrol shot contains a diluted formulation of Naltrexone that is designed for extended-release injectable suspension. Essentially, it is an opiate blocker implant.

When a recovering opiate addict takes a regular opioid treatment pill or medication, such as methadone or Suboxone, the mind forms an associative pattern of receiving treatment as a replacement for the drug of addiction. By comparison, when a recovering addict receives one injection once a month, it changes the way the person’s mind thinks about and craves the drug of addiction.

Common Vivitrol Shot Side Effects

As with any medication, there is a possibility that some people may experience some side effects. Common Vivitrol shot side effects can include:

  • Blisters at the injection site
  • Hardening, swelling or lumpiness in the area around the injection site
  • Dark scabs at the injection site
  • Liver damage

Other Vivitrol Shot Side Effects

There are some Vivitrol shot side effects that may arise that aren’t directly related to the implanted substance, but are related to the effects of Vivitrol in conjunction with opioid use. These include:

  • Increased risk of opiate overdose
  • Increased risk of sudden opioid withdrawal symptoms if detox is not completed first

Vivitrol does not contain synthetic opioids, as other treatment medications such as methadone or Suboxone do. However, if the person receiving treatment attempts to return to using opioid street drugs or opiate medications while on the Vivitrol shot, the risk of accidental overdose is dramatically increased.

It’s also important that anyone considering treatment with the Vivitrol shot should have completed a supervised detox program at an addiction rehab treatment center, such as White Sands Treatment facility. If the person has not stopped taking the opiate drug of addiction, there is an increased risk of experiencing unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It’s advised that the recovering person has been opiate-free for 7 to 10 days before taking the Vivitrol shot.



If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.