Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Common & Serious Side Effects

Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Common & Serious Side Effects

If you struggle with alcohol or opioid addiction, you may have heard about Vivitrol as a treatment method.

Vivitrol is the brand name for Naltrexone, an extended-release medication administered via monthly injection that can be used to treat both alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. It works by reducing cravings and removing positive feelings if someone happens to use alcohol or opioids. By curbing cravings it helps an individual begin to rebuild their life.

At Master Center for Addiction Medicine, we believe in compassionate, informed care for all. Part of that comes with explaining everything about medication, including its side effects.

Here are the most common and the most severe side effects of Vivitrol that you should know if considering the medication as a treatment.

Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Common Side Effects

Research has shown Vivitrol can help mitigate the symptoms of alcohol addiction and opioid addiction and help break the cycle of addiction. But if you’re going to take this drug, you ought to know the side effects that you may experience. 

Nausea and Dizziness

Vivitrol may induce nausea, dizziness, and general weakness in the muscles and joints. These are some of the milder side effects, but don’t take them lightly. 

Dizziness can lead to disorientation, which may pose serious risks if you drive regularly or your job requires focus and dexterity. 

Anxiety and Nervousness

Another common side effect of Vivitrol use is anxiety or nervousness. 

If signs of anxiety or nervousness persist beyond 7-10 days, you should call a doctor. Many things can cause nervousness, from occupational stress to a poor diet. But Vivitrol may induce a type of lingering anxiety that can undercut its effectiveness as an addiction treatment. 

Call your doctor if the anxiety starts to outweigh the benefits of the medication. 

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite is not always a serious issue at first, but it can become one if it persists. 

Studies have linked sustained loss of appetite to diabetes, chronic illness, cancer, GI tract disorders, and other severe ailments. If loss of appetite becomes an issue, contact a doctor.

Increased Thirst

Excessive thirst is another side effect of Vivitrol related to the chemical reactions it triggers in your body. 

Medications like Vivitrol can cause dehydration when they reach the gut, making you thirsty. Studies have shown that losing even one to two percent of total body water can be dangerous for your health and cognition. 

Ensure you hydrate regularly and sufficiently throughout the day, especially when undergoing Vivitrol treatment.

Sleep Disturbance and Insomnia

Insomnia and sleep interruptions are two common issues people face when undergoing withdrawal from alcohol and other substances. Withdrawal can make it difficult for you to fall and stay asleep. Unfortunately, so can medications like Vivitrol that help prevent some withdrawal symptoms. 

Vivitrol can negatively affect the sleep of those who take it. However, this is typically not a long-term effect and will likely dissipate once Vivitrol treatment is complete. 

Decreased Sex Drive

Not only can Vivitrol decrease your sex drive, but it can also cause temporary erectile dysfunction in males and reduce the ability to achieve orgasm for both women and men. 

It’s not a pleasant side effect, but limiting the use of tobacco, nicotine, and marijuana can help.

Vivitrol (Naltrexone) Serious Side Effects

The more severe side effects of Naltrexone require medical attention. If you experience any of these, do not wait to seek medical help immediately. 

Breathing Problems

One potential Vivitrol side effect is causing interruptions in your breathing. If you experience an accelerated breath rate, an inability to inhale oxygen fully, or excessive coughing and wheezing, call a doctor immediately.

Severe Pain

Feeling some discomfort at your Vivitrol injection site is normal. However, a lump, swelling that doesn’t quickly subside, an open wound, or dark, irregular scabbing on or near the injection are all legitimate causes for concern. Contact your doctor immediately.

Liver Problems

One of the most serious complications associated with Vivitrol treatment is adverse reactions in the liver. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Yellowing in the whites of the eyes
  • Excessive windedness and exhaustion
  • Dark-colored urine

If you get any one of these, call your doctor immediately.


Vivitrol can induce depression in some patients. Consider exploring different treatments if you already struggle with depression and be sure to tell your doctor that you are affected by depression. 

Vivitrol can significantly improve the quality of life of people struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. But there may be more appropriate treatments for those with depression and other mental health concerns – your doctor will be able to help guide you to the most appropriate treatment plan for your needs.  

Know Your Treatment Plan

If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol or opioid use disorder, a Vivitrol treatment plan — planned and supervised by trusted medical professionals — can help. 
Master Center for Addiction uses evidence-based approaches to treat addiction. If you’re considering using Vivitrol, contact us today.