Over the past several decades, opioid addiction has been steadily on the rise across the United States. It’s a disease that detrimentally affects hundreds of thousands of Americans and their families each year.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that nearly 50,000 Americans died in 2019 from an opioid-related overdose. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2018, every two out of three overdose deaths were opioid-related.
The bright side to this growing issue is that as addiction has increased, so have treatment options for those suffering from opioid abuse. When the right services and treatment plans are in place and accessible, long-term recovery for opioid addiction is possible.
From residential treatment programs to services that revolve specifically around opioid rehab, those struggling with addiction don’t have to face it alone.
Instead of dealing with the stress of trying to quit opioids unassisted, addicts can enter a program that utilizes medication management approaches with counseling and behavioral therapies. Among the treatment options for opioid addiction, Vivitrol treatment is highly popular as well.
Opioids and How they Affect the Brain
Unraveling an opioid addiction is a complex process. This difficulty stems from the fact that opioid addiction isn’t simply constant cravings but a disease that can affect how the brain perceives reality. Before someone can understand the many Vivitrol benefits for opioid addiction treatment, it’s important to understand opioids and how they work.
Opioids fall under one of two categories, but both belong to a class of drugs that originates with the opium produced in the poppy plant. Opioids are drugs that directly affect the brain and can create a variety of changes and results.
Opioids can be produced as prescription medications to help with pain relief. They are also found as street drugs that are illegally manufactured for distribution.
Upon ingestion, opioids immediately begin to interact with opioid receptors in the brain. They work as a functional block to pain signals. They can also create a temporary sense of euphoria or extreme well-being by promoting the excessive production of endorphins.
As opioids interact in the brain this way, users can experience other physical side effects. These might include nausea, drowsiness, confusion, or slowed breathing patterns. While these symptoms can be dangerous to vital systems, it’s the temporary feeling of euphoria that tends to lend itself to the risk of opioid addiction.
The feeling is so freeing that many who intend to use opioids for only a short time find themselves seeking out more of the drug to recreate that initial feeling of happiness. With enough time and additional doses, the body quickly comes to depend on opioids to experience any sense of relief.
When dosages are increased, the body requires more with each use to achieve a relatively similar feeling. This condition is called tolerance and is linked intricately with addiction.
In this scenario, the brain recognizes that it is consistently being fed more opioids than it requires. As a result, it stops producing natural chemical levels and learns to depend on opioids to function.
Categories of Opioids
Opioids should never be confused with over-the-counter painkillers. They are narcotics that can only legally be prescribed by physicians. With that being said, they are regularly purchased on the black market for recreational use.
Prescription opioids that doctors typically recommend to their patients include Vicodin and OxyContin. Morphine is another common yet extremely powerful prescription medication that’s often only rivaled by fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Heroin also falls into the category of opioids but is an illegal drug purchased through non-regulated channels.
It’s important to note that no matter how opioids are accessed and used, both prescription and illegal opioids come with significant risks. At most, opioids should be used for three days to treat injury-related or post-surgical pain.
Using opioids beyond this timeframe or in dosages outside of prescription recommendations can easily lead to tolerance and dependence. Eventually, the user has no control over their medication needs or management. At this point, they are suffering from the disease known as opioid addiction.
The biggest risk associated with opioid addiction is the likelihood of an unintentional overdose. Taking more than intended in pursuit of another high can repress the body’s ability to breathe to the point of death.
Fatal opioid overdoses are also linked to harmful drug interactions. A user can unknowingly provoke an overdose simply by mixing an opioid with another prescription medication they take regularly.
Medication as a Part of Addiction Treatment
Once the body and the brain have come to depend on opioids to function properly, reversing the effects will require professional intervention. Those struggling with an opioid addiction trying to quit on their own will often experience severe symptoms of withdrawal that have them heading back to opioids shortly after.
Some of the more severe and common symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include but aren’t limited to:
- Muscle spasms
- Mood changes
- Body aches
- Belly pain
Even the most committed individual will find that these symptoms are nearly impossible to overcome independently. That’s because they’re far more than just figments of the imagination.
They’re strong physical reactions to the body and brain no longer receiving a substance they require to function. Safely overcoming them requires a knowledgeable support team and a combination of customized treatment solutions.
Medication is more frequently used both during and after a patient enters a comprehensive detox program for opioid addiction.
Certain medications have been shown to not only ease the effects of withdrawal symptoms but help keep those in recovery on track for success for longer. A few of the commonly used medications to treat withdrawal symptoms include:
These medications are used to treat physical symptoms, while behavioral therapies and counseling are integrated to deal with emotional aspects of recovery. These treatment options could include:
- Family therapy
- One-on-one counseling
- 12-step programs
- Cognitive-behavior therapy
- Support groups
In most cases, a person going through a treatment program can expect to participate in a combination of these therapies in tandem with medication treatment options.
Vivitrol Benefits for Opioid Addiction Treatment
When treating an opioid abuse disorder, Vivitrol has become a widely recommended medication solution within treatment programs. Vivitrol is a pharmaceutical brand name for what is otherwise known as naltrexone.
The Vivitrol benefits for opioid addiction treatment are vast and varied. Vivitrol is available in both an injectable and oral form and is produced using the main ingredient, naltrexone.
Naltrexone is defined as an opioid antagonist. It’s an ingredient that can actively work to block opioid receptors in the brain.
This powerful ability makes Vivitrol especially useful during and after treatment for opioid addiction. Blocked opioid receptors don’t create cravings that are as strong or irresistible.
This blocking also helps the brain readjust to more normal levels of understanding reward for various substances introduced to the body.
What is Vivitrol used for exactly? Ultimately, Vivitrol is a medication that works to create opioid withdrawal symptoms in the body if opioids are used. This deception is designed to discourage an addict from pursuing opioids because the reward isn’t pleasant but uncomfortable.
Vivitrol benefits for opioid addiction treatment also cross over with other forms of therapy. Treatment centers have seen significant success at helping those in recovery avoid relapse when Vivitrol is used in tandem with support groups and psychotherapy services.
How Vivitrol Is Administered
Vivitrol benefits for opioid addiction treatment also extend to a variety of options for administering the medication. In this way, accessing Vivitrol is convenient and customized to the needs of the person in the recovery process.
Those who opt to receive Vivitrol in its injectable form will have the medication administered by a physician or qualified nurse in a medical setting once a month. Those who choose to take Vivitrol as an oral medication will need to take a pill once daily.
Because Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, there are certain specifications to its administration that must be noted. This medication causes opioid withdrawals if opioids are present in the bloodstream. That makes it vital that the individual taking Vivitrol is opioid-free for a minimum of 7 to 10 days before administration.
Those who receive Vivitrol via injection will be required to take a urine test before receiving the medication to prove the body is opioid-free. It’s important to note that Vivitrol is not effective in a patient in a current state of withdrawal or someone utilizing Suboxone as part of their treatment plan.
Some Pros and Cons of Integrating Vivitrol into an Addiction Treatment Program
One of the most evident benefits of utilizing Vivitrol within an opioid addiction treatment program is its ability to reduce the likelihood of relapse. It achieves this by decreasing craving intensity.
Another benefit is Vivitrol’s ability to be stopped without the risk of prompting withdrawal symptoms. Vivitrol is not a narcotic, is non-addictive, and does not require a drug taper.
Many people in recovery like the idea of being able to customize their treatment plan with Vivitrol.
Those who opt for the injection form of Vivitrol will see long-acting results that don’t require regular monitoring to be successful throughout the month.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to Vivitrol that should be considered as well. Some people in recovery struggle because this medication requires ten days of being opioid-free before using it.
Care providers can’t immediately use Vivitrol if a patient is also using methadone within their treatment plan. Finally, the high cost associated with Vivitrol can make it difficult for some people in recovery to access it.
Vivitrol and its Successful Partnership with Psychotherapy
Today, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an integral part of many treatment center offerings for dealing with opioid addiction. Vivitrol is a helpful and successful addition to this type of treatment approach. This benefit is especially true when Vivitrol is paired with psychotherapy services.
Vivitrol and psychotherapy in combination have been shown to help reduce the risk of relapse over time and make initial detoxification easier. This combined strength is likely because Vivitrol directly blocks opioid receptors while psychotherapy addresses underlying emotional triggers a patient may be experiencing.
The combined effect can be extremely powerful and successful for an individual.
The field of psychotherapy can encompass a variety of treatment options. A few of these include:
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
Each of these has a common goal of uncovering those underlying needs, emotions, and triggers that originally led to opioid addiction. They also help an individual gain the coping skills, interpersonal skills, and support systems they need to live an opioid-free life going forward.
What to Expect When Taking Vivitrol as Part of an Opioid Addiction Treatment Plan
Those just starting with Vivitrol will want to make sure that they have an open communication channel in place with their physician and treatment support team. It’s important to understand treatment goals before integrating Vivitrol into the process.
Vivitrol is always recommended in combination with counseling or therapy. It’s not an ideal choice for someone who is actively still using opioids or experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.
Those who choose to move forward with Vivitrol will want to have a method in place to remember injection appointments. The success of this medication relies heavily on regular doses. That makes it essential for patients to keep up with appointments at regularly scheduled intervals monthly.
Some potential side effects associated with Vivitrol should be reported immediately to a physician if experienced after medication administration. These injection-site symptoms can include:
Some of the more common side effects linked to Vivitrol can include:
- Muscle cramps
- Joint pain
While these side effects are not life-threatening, users should report them to an attending physician. Similarly, those taking Vivitrol will want to have a support system in place if an overdose risk is likely.
Vivitrol works to block opioid receptors, but in severe cases of addiction, a patient may attempt to overcome this effect by ingesting large amounts of opioids impulsively. Unfortunately, this situation can lead to injury, coma, or even prove fatal. Having support in place to keep an eye on opioid use during Vivitrol use is recommended.
The Recovery Team is Here for You
Opioid addiction is a serious disease that requires professional intervention to overcome. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid abuse, the Recovery Team is here to help.
Our professional and compassionate staff is proud to offer various programs and treatment options to help those struggling with addiction overcome hurdles of all types. Whether you require residential treatment options, intensive outpatient services, or transitional living solutions, we have what you’re searching for.
Reach out today at 800-817-1247 to speak with a representative and learn more.
Let’s get you or a loved one help with a few simple steps.