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Is Vivitrol Really Working for Treating Addiction?

Is Vivitrol a miracle drug to help kick opioid addiction, or just replacing one drug with another?

Vivitrol TreatmentVivitrol and other medications have become increasingly popular in drug rehabilitation programs because they offer a quick and easy path to help patients maintain sobriety. While medications can help certain people control their substance use, medication assisted drug treatment (MAT) can hinder your progress by not allowing you to achieve the independence from substance use that you desire.

What Is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is an injectable form of an older medication, naltrexone. Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984 to treat opioid addiction and in 1994 to treat alcohol dependency. It was prescribed as a once a day tablet, and blocks opioid receptors in the brain. This makes drugs and alcohol seem to have fewer desirable effects thereby reducing the desire to use them. Clinical trials showed that naltrexone helped reduce heavy drinking and maintaining abstinence, especially in certain populations. Naltrexone appears to work best in people with a certain gene variant, causing it to have very good effects on some, while not helping others at all.

Vivitrol was approved in 2006 as a monthly injectable formulation of Naltrexone. This long-acting form of the medication helps overcome the compliance issues that can come with a daily pill, while showing the same effects seen with the oral Naltrexone. It is very popular with drug rehab facilities and 12-Step programs as a way to assist people with their drug and alcohol dependence issues. Patients feel this is a quick fix to their problem as it allows a medication to do the hard work of controlling their substance use.

But Does It Really Work?

Though it is supported by clinical data, the problem with medication assisted treatment (MAT) is that it merely substitutes dependence on one substance for another. People seeking help with their substance use often feel controlled by their drug of choice, creating both a physical and psychological dependency. Treating them with Vivitrol and other medications passes the control from alcohol or other drugs to the medication, creating a new dependence on the medication to maintain sobriety. This psychological dependency is damaging to your belief of your self control of your drug and alcohol use and makes it easier to return to misusing them in the future if you feel the medication is the only thing that keeps you from using.

At Saint Jude Retreats, guests are not allowed to use medication assisted (MAT) therapies - though guests who have already received an injection of Vivitrol prior to arrival will still be welcomed. Rather than reinforce the belief that they have the disease of addiction, Saint Jude Retreats strives to help guests understand that they have control over their substance use and provide them with the information and tools to reach their individual goals. Rather than rely on Vivitrol or any drug to keep them sober, guests are encouraged to trust in their own ability and control over their substance use. This leads to a long-lasting independence rather than a dependency on medications.

If you struggle with substance use, you can take control of your situation without the help of medications. Please call Saint Jude Retreats at 1.888.424.2626 for more information.

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