Vivitrol is a drug used to treat alcohol dependence in people struggling with substance use disorder. It is an injection-based medication that has a variety of uses. Beyond treating alcohol dependence, Vivitrol can also be used to treat drug dependence or to block the effects of opioid narcotics.

Vivitrol is typically used as a part of drug or alcohol abuse treatment programs to prevent relapse. Vivitrol can stop the individual from craving the substance, causing them to move away from their substance dependence and toward sobriety.

When it comes to Vivitrol and alcohol, Vivitrol is a common medication given to people struggling with alcohol abuse. The injection helps to reduce the urge to consume alcohol, which can help the individual lower the amount they drink or stop drinking completely. 

However, if a person feels that they have become dependent on alcohol or drugs to the point where they need to rely on Vivitrol to prevent a relapse, their dependence has likely become a full-blown addiction.

If you depend on Vivitrol to keep your alcohol consumption in check, you may struggle more than you think. Please continue reading to learn more about Vivitrol and alcohol, including how Vivitrol is effective, the signs of alcohol addiction, and what to do if you rely on Vivitrol to control your alcohol addiction.

Drinking On Vivitrol

Vivitrol is an injection medication given to the patient once a month. The medication is injected into the muscle tissue of the patient. Vivitrol should only be administered by a doctor or healthcare professional. The injection must be taken regularly for the patient to receive the best benefits from the medication.

Vivitrol works against alcohol abuse disorder because it is an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists are also called opioid inhibitors. An opioid inhibitor works against the effects of alcohol on the brain by blocking its effect altogether.

During withdrawal, Vivitrol will reduce alcohol cravings so that the risk of relapsing is much lower. Vivitrol cannot prevent a person from consuming alcohol, but it can lower the effects of alcohol on the body when the medication is in effect.

Essentially, Vivitrol can decrease binge or heavy drinking, lower the risk of relapsing, and decrease the intensity of alcohol cravings during withdrawal.

Vivitrol differs from other medication types designed to control alcohol abuse. Vivitrol will not make you feel sick if you drink while taking it. Instead, Vivitrol changes how your brain chemically reacts to alcohol in your body. Vivitrol achieves this by preventing the endorphins created by alcohol from attaching to receptors.

However, it is important to note that Vivitrol does not begin to work instantaneously. Instead, it is a medication that takes time to build up within the brain and blood. This means that it is crucial for people taking Vivitrol to take their shots on time each month to experience the full benefits of Vivitrol.

Missing even one injection can negatively influence the effectiveness of the next one or two doses.

Most healthcare and drug rehabilitation professionals agree that Vivitrol is the most effective when used alongside a complete and comprehensive treatment plan. A treatment plan can help people to understand the root cause of their addiction, prevent relapsing, and begin to find healthier coping mechanisms than substance use.

Vivitrol and Opioid Use

Vivitrol is effective at controlling opioid addiction because of its chemical makeup. Vivitrol can locate the opioid receptors throughout the body and bind to them. Next, the medication blocks the opioid receptor so that opioids cannot latch on and cannot cause the person to feel their effects.

Some people get confused because they think that anything binding to an opioid receptor would trigger the opioid reaction in the body. However, Vivitrol is a different kind of binding agent. Most people are addicted to opioid agonists, which activate the opioid receptors in the body.


Vivitrol is different. It is an opioid antagonist, which can prevent the activation and reaction of opioid receptors throughout the body. Therefore, Vivitrol binds to the opioid receptors but does not activate them. Instead, the body feels that something has attached to the receptors, so it does not trigger feelings of withdrawal or cravings.

How is Vivitrol Administered?

Vivitrol is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting every four weeks or monthly. Each injection of Vivitrol contains 380 mg of the medication. Vivitrol is administered into the muscular part of the buttock or thigh.

There are some potential side effects of Vivitrol, such as:

  • Headache or migraines
  • Stomach cramping
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscular aches
  • Joint discomfort
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

You should inform your doctor if the side effects persist more prolonged than usual or worsen over time. Let your doctor know if the side effects last or are intense, as the doctor might need to reduce your dosage of Vivitrol or provide a different medication. Side effects from Vivitrol are typically rare, but they can occur.

How To Know When You Have An Underlying Addiction At Hand

If you are struggling with alcohol consumption and heavy drinking, you may be fighting alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is a chronic medical and psychological condition that details a history of excessive drinking, heavy drinking, cravings for alcoholic beverages, and an inability to control the amount of alcohol you consume.

People struggling with alcohol dependence can also not stop consuming alcohol despite knowing there are issues with their alcohol consumption, both physically, mentally, and socially.

Alcohol dependence can cause various physical health problems such as pancreatitis, high blood pressure, strokes, cancer, cardiovascular issues, and coronary-related heart disease. Alcohol abuse and dependence can also exacerbate mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and more.

Consuming too much alcohol is often considered alcoholism, but alcohol abuse, also known as alcoholism, and alcohol dependence is not the same thing. Both are defined by a psychological and physiological dependence on alcohol, but they are not 100% the same.

When a person is prescribed Vivitrol for their alcohol dependence or substance use disorder, it typically means that they struggle with alcoholism at a different level. Alcohol dependence is a form of substance use disorder that can be treated with a physiological and holistic treatment plan that includes medication such as Vivitrol.

If a person is prescribed Vivitrol, it often means that they are suffering from an addiction to alcohol. Suppose you and your healthcare provider have decided that Vivitrol is the right option for your situation. In that case, you may want to explore other options to help treat your alcohol dependence for addiction.

The symptoms of alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependency are very descriptive and easy to identify. For people who are suffering from alcohol dependence, it may be difficult for them to identify the symptoms within their own life. However, to people looking objectively at an individual’s life, these symptoms are often easy to identify.

The symptoms of an alcohol dependence include being unable to control how much alcohol you consume, feeling cravings to drink alcohol, failing to show up for obligations such as work, social events, or school, and consuming alcohol in situations where it is unnecessary or unsafe, and spending lots of time drinking alcohol, getting alcohol, or recovering from drinking.

Other symptoms include becoming more socially reclusive, trying to cut back on how much alcohol you consume but being unsuccessful, creating an alcohol tolerance so that you consume more to feel the same effect, and feeling withdrawal symptoms when you do not have alcohol in your body.

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What To Do When Suffering From Alcohol Abuse: How To Get The Help You Need & Deserve

If you are dependent on Vivitrol for controlling your alcohol addiction, you are likely in a situation that you need help to get out of. Alcohol addiction can be incredibly difficult to beat alone, so you must have a support team and a treatment plan to live a sober life.

Facing your addiction and coming to terms with the reality of the situation is challenging. It requires you to dig deep and bare your soul to yourself. However, once you identify the problem, you can begin to take steps to fix it.

Try reaching out to friends and family you trust and explain the situation to them. It is always difficult to tell people you are suffering from an addiction, but creating a support team that will be there for you along your journey is crucial.

Another crucial part of fighting alcohol addiction is to find a treatment center that works for you. A treatment center can provide professional help, medication, and counseling to make your fight against addiction easier. Utilizing professional, medical help in a top-notch facility can ensure you are getting the help, support, and guidance you need to kick alcohol abuse to the curb. Reach out today to start walking on the path to a better, more fulfilling future free from alcohol abuse, today.


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Becker, H. Alcohol dependence, withdrawal, and relapse. National Library Of Medicine. Retrieved July 26, 2022 from https:/
  2. Brewer, A. Healthline. Side-Effects Of Vivitrol: What You Need To Know. Published June 7, 2022. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  3. Williamson, J. M. (2022, June 10). Vivitrol injection (naltrexone): Side effects, dosage, and more. Medical News Today. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed July 27, 2022

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