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Understanding Vivitrol Side Effects: What You Need to Know

vivitrol side effects

Understanding Vivitrol Side Effects: What You Need to Know

Vivitrol Side Effects

Opioid addiction is a serious health condition that affects millions of people worldwide.  Thankfully, there are treatment options available, and Vivitrol is one medication that can be a valuable tool in the fight against addiction. However, like any medication, Vivitrol side effects can occur.

This blog will explore the different types of Vivitrol side effects, how to manage them, and when to seek medical attention.

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol, also known by its generic name naltrexone, is a medication used to treat opioid addiction. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, preventing opioids from producing their euphoric effects. This can help people in recovery avoid relapse by reducing cravings and the pleasurable sensations associated with opioid use. Vivitrol is given once a month via injection.

The Role of Vivitrol in Addiction Treatment

Vivitrol is not a cure for opioid addiction, but it can be a powerful aid for people committed to recovery. It is typically used in conjunction with other forms of addiction treatment, such as therapy and counseling. Vivitrol can help people in recovery by reducing cravings for opioids, blocking the effects of opioids if used, and Supporting long-term sobriety.

Uses of Vivitrol

Vivitrol is primarily used to treat opioid addiction, including addiction to heroin, prescription pain medications, and fentanyl. It may also be used in some cases to treat alcohol dependence.

Side Effects of Vivitrol

Vivitrol side effects can vary from person to person.  Some people may experience no side effects at all, while others may experience mild, moderate, or even severe side effects.  Here’s a breakdown of Vivitrol side effects:

Expected:

Injection site reactions like pain, redness, swelling, or itching are typical and usually mild.

Common (Mild):

Nausea and vomiting are the most common side effects. They can start shortly after the injection and resolve within days. Other common side effects include headache, fatigue, dizziness, stomach cramps/pain, constipation/diarrhea, muscle/joint pain, difficulty sleeping, or decreased appetite.

Serious (Less Common):

Be aware of rare but serious side effects, including allergic reactions like hives, swelling, breathing difficulty, requiring immediate medical attention. Vivitrol may also increase the risk of depression or suicidal thoughts, so talk to your doctor right away if you experience mood or behavior changes. In rare cases, liver damage can occur, but your doctor will monitor this with blood tests. Severe injection site reactions (lasting redness, swelling, pain) are also rare.

It’s important to note that Vivitrol can also cause withdrawal symptoms if you have recently used opioids. This is because Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids, and if there are still opioids in your system, it can trigger withdrawal. To avoid this, your doctor will need to confirm you are opioid-free before starting Vivitrol.

Factors Influencing Side Effects

Several factors can influence the severity of Vivitrol side effects, including:

  • Dosage: The higher the dosage of Vivitrol, the greater the chance of experiencing side effects.
  • Individual sensitivity: Some people are simply more sensitive to medications than others.
  • Overall health: People with certain health conditions may be more prone to side effects.

Long-Term Effects of Vivitrol

Most Vivitrol side effects are temporary and disappear within a few days or weeks. However, there can be some long-term effects, such as:

  • Depression: There is a small risk of developing depression while taking Vivitrol. If you’re experiencing changes in how you feel or act, please talk to your doctor.
  • Liver damage: Long-term use of Vivitrol may increase the risk of liver damage. Your doctor will monitor your liver function with blood tests during treatment.

Tips for coping with Vivitrol side effects

Here are some measures to deal with Vivitrol side effects:

  • Over-the-counter medications: Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, anti-nausea medication, and stool softeners can help manage some common side effects.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids can help prevent dehydration, which can worsen some side effects such as nausea and constipation.
  • Healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve your overall health and well-being, making it easier to cope with side effects.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve mood, sleep quality, and overall energy levels, all of which can be affected by Vivitrol side effects. Choose activities you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, and start slowly if you’re new to exercise.
  • Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help manage stress and anxiety, which can worsen some Vivitrol side effects. Many free resources are available online and in apps to help you learn relaxation techniques.
  • Sleep hygiene practices: Getting enough quality sleep is important for overall health and well-being. Practice good sleep hygiene by establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Talk to your doctor: If you are experiencing any side effects that are bothersome or do not improve after a few days, talk to your doctor. They can suggest additional strategies for managing your side effects or adjust your medication dosage.
  • Support groups: Consider joining a support group for people recovering from addiction. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through and can offer support and encouragement.

Remember, everyone experiences side effects differently. By trying these tips and working with your doctor, you can find ways to manage Vivitrol’s side effects and stay on track with your recovery journey.

When to Seek Medical Help

While many Vivitrol side effects are mild and temporary, there are situations where you should seek medical attention right away. Here are some warning signs:

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you experience symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, difficulty breathing, or wheezing, go to the nearest emergency room immediately.
  • Sudden and severe mood changes: If you experience any sudden changes in mood or behavior, such as feeling depressed, anxious, or having thoughts of suicide, talk to your doctor right away.
  • Signs of liver damage: Symptoms of liver damage can include yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Contact your doctor, if you experience any such symptoms.
  • Severe injection site reactions: If you experience redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site that lasts longer than a few days or gets worse, contact your doctor.
  • Worsening of other medical conditions: If you have any underlying health conditions and Vivitrol seems to be worsening them, talk to your doctor.

FAQ’s

Que: Can Vivitrol cause liver damage?

Ans: Vivitrol can rarely cause liver damage. Your doctor will monitor your liver function with blood tests during treatment to identify any potential problems early.  It’s important to disclose any history of liver disease to your doctor before starting Vivitrol.

Que: How long do Vivitrol side effects last?

Ans: Most Vivitrol side effects, such as nausea and headache, are temporary and usually subside within a few days or weeks.  However, some side effects, such as depression, may require medical attention.

Que: Can Vivitrol interact with other medications?

Ans: Yes, Vivitrol can interact with other medications. It’s important to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements, before starting Vivitrol.

Que: Is it safe to use Vivitrol during pregnancy?

Ans: Vivitrol is not recommended for use during pregnancy. There is limited data on the safety of Vivitrol in pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of Vivitrol if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Que: What to do in case of experiencing severe side effects?

Ans: If you experience any severe side effects, such as an allergic reaction, sudden mood changes, or signs of liver damage, seek medical attention immediately. Reach out to the nearest emergency room.

Conclusion

Opioid addiction is a treatable condition, and Vivitrol can be a powerful tool in your fight for sobriety. While Vivitrol side effects are possible, understanding them and knowing how to manage them can empower you to stay on track.

Calusa Recovery can help. Our addiction specialists can answer your questions about Vivitrol and create a personalized treatment plan to minimize side effects and maximize your recovery success. Take the next step towards a healthier, happier you.

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