What Does the Vivitrol Shot Block? What To Know

What Does the Vivitrol Shot Block? What To Know

If you’ve tried many detox methods in the past and nothing is helping your opioid or alcohol dependence, Vivitrol can help.

Vivitrol is helping many people recover from addiction. Taking the medication alone is not a practical and comprehensive treatment plan.

Fortunately, people with alcohol or substance use disorders do not need to recover without help. You can get the help you deserve at the Master Center.

Our team of experts knows how to support you — because they’ve been there too. Many of our team members are in recovery themselves. They have first-hand experience about what treatment works and what doesn’t — and that includes Vivitrol. 

With the right support system, Vivitrol treatment can help you start a new chapter in your life.

What Is a Vivitrol Shot?

Vivitrol is the brand name of Naltrexone — an opioid and alcohol antagonist. In plain English, it’s a medication that treats alcohol and opioid use disorders. 

After nearly half a century of research and development, Vivitrol injections finally garnered full FDA approval in 2010. 

The medication works by blocking the signals of euphoria and cravings from getting to the brain if an individual ingests a substance. It makes long-term recovery much more manageable. People in recovery often report cravings are the most challenging aspect of staying opiate or alcohol-free. Taking physical cravings out of the equation helps remove an unnecessary obstacle.

Vivitrol prevents the desire to continue using an opioid like heroin by removing its pleasurable effects. It also lessens alcohol’s addictive qualities by suppressing feelings of euphoria or reward.

A trained medical professional administers the monthly shot. It is a gluteal muscle injection that remains in your system for up to 30 days. The length of time that you should take Vivitrol is largely based on your progress in recovery – your doctor can best advise you of an appropriate timeline.

What Does the Vivitrol Shot Block?

Vivitrol curbs both alcohol and opioid use by blocking the pleasure receptors in the brain that encourage substance abuse.

Here’s how a Vivitrol injection is can help people struggling with alcohol or opiates:

Vivitrol for Alcohol Dependence

For people addicted to alcohol, Vivitrol can help curb the desire to continue drinking. Studies show that people who take Vivitrol experience a 25% reduction in heavy drinking days. 

An opioid antagonist like Vivitrol is thought to stop positive reinforcement neurons from forming in the brain. Exactly how Vivitrol works for alcohol use disorder is not completely understood.  For many people, if you take one drink, the medication appears to switch off the brain’s push to take another and another to the point of excess.

In some cases, people trying to eliminate or moderate alcohol use will take the oral form of Naltrexone about an hour before drinking to prevent themselves from drinking excessively.

Vivitrol for Opioid Use

Vivitrol helps to prevent relapse in patients recovering from heroin and other opiate dependencies. It is only effective — and recommended for use — for someone who has completed a detox first.

Vivitrol wears off in around 30 days, and it is critical not to skip a dose while undergoing recovery. Unless you are in a restricted environment, there is a risk of cravings returning.

Vivitrol is a non-addictive substance. That makes it far more successful in curbing opioid use disorders than older alternatives like Methadone, an opioid agonist. 

An opioid agonist (i.e., Methadone) mimics the feelings of opiates in the brain as opposed to an opioid antagonist (i.e., Vivitrol), which blocks opiate signals from reaching the brain’s receptors in the first place. 

Many people who use Methadone end up spending months or years trying to break their new addiction to the drug meant to cure them. This risk of cross dependence does not exist when you start Vivitrol treatment.

Why Should You Not Take the Vivitrol Shot?

Not everyone is the right candidate for Vivitrol (naltrexone) treatment. 

Do not begin Naltrexone therapy if you:

  • Currently have an opioid such as heroin, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, or fentanyl in your system. Detox is required before beginning Vivitrol treatment. 
  • Are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Patients with anxiety, fever, sweating, teary eyes, shakes, hot flashes, muscle aches, twitches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps should not take the shot. Starting Vivitrol treatment while withdrawing will bring on more severe withdrawals.
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients
  • Have acute hepatitis
  • Have a history of liver disease or failure

Tell your doctor you fall into any of these risk groups before beginning your treatment. 

It’s crucial to emphasize that you should not take this injection if you currently have opiates in your system.

The patient information (17.1) in the FDA-approved usage guidelines recommend being free of opiate medications for 7-10 days before getting the first injection. There are dangerous side effects if you take Naltrexone with opiates still in your system. Your doctor may test your ability to begin Vivitrol therapy by administering a microdose and monitoring your body’s reaction.

The recommendations also state that patients should abstain from drinking before commencing treatment. 

An oral version of Naltrexone may be suitable for some patients who cannot take the shot. The pill is not as strong as the injection and requires more frequent doses. In most cases, the pill is just as effective as the injection if regularly taken as prescribed.

Speak to your doctor and ask which form of Naltrexone is the right choice for your unique situation. 

Can You Drink Alcohol on the Vivitrol Shot?

Over 14 million Americans experience Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Vivitrol is helping reduce those numbers every day. 

You may be wondering if Naltrexone treatment requires you to be completely alcohol-free. Typically, Vivitrol treatment for alcohol addiction is far more successful when you are sober as well. Ideally, the medication removes your urge to drink, making it easier to stay sober.

If you happen to use while on Naltrexone, there are no additional side effects from the medication itself.

Relapses are a part of recovery and nothing shameful. Taking Vivitrol may be the best way to lower your chances of a relapse and reduce your substance use and get your life back on the right track.

Where Can You Get a Vivitrol Shot?

You can only take a Vivitrol shot from a licensed healthcare professional in a medical facility. Most drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics will carry a form of Naltrexone such as Vivitrol for their patients.  

You cannot self-administer the shot or purchase it at a pharmacy. 

If you live in Virginia and seek a pathway out of alcohol or opiate addiction, the Master Center has a location near you

We are proud to administer the Vivitrol shot for our patients. Experienced doctors and nurses are available at every one of our clinics to safely provide this life-changing medication. 

Vivitrol treatment has helped many of our patients over the years. We are looking forward to having you join them in recovery.


At the Master Center, we take a holistic approach to recovery. No two patients are alike, and no path to recovery mirrors another.

We combine Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) with therapy and counseling to create a well-rounded treatment plan. From private sessions to group discussions, we place mental health as an essential tenet of your well-being.

Communication and a strong support system are just as essential to your recovery as any medication. Trust us to tailor your plan to you. 

Vivitrol can be a door to your recovery just waiting to be opened. Here at Master Center, we have the keys.

Pick up the phone and call 804-552-5122 or request an appointment online today.

Let’s start your recovery together.