Vivitrol is a drug used on people dependent on narcotics who have chosen to stop to stay drug-free. Apart from that, it also helps alcoholics stay away from alcohol.
Vivitrol use is a part of an overall program, which may also include attending support group meetings, counseling, and any other treatments that your doctor may recommend. This drug is not a narcotic; it only works by blocking its effects, particularly the “high” feeling, which makes you want to use more of it.
Vivitrol does not produce the effects that usually cause physical and mental dependence. Using this drug may cause withdrawal symptoms in people who are dependent on narcotics physically; hence, the treatment will start when you are no longer dependent on it.
The span of treatment generally depends on the kind of narcotic you are dependent on, the amount you took, and how long you used it.
Inform your doctor if you are still having withdrawal symptoms prior to using this medicine. The medicine is used only under a doctor’s supervision.
2 What to Know Before Using
If you are about to start Vivitrol, speak with your doctor about what you need to know. The risks and benefits the medicine offer must be weighed.
Before using this, you and your doctor must consider the following:
Allergies: If you have any unusual reaction to any medicine, be sure to tell your doctor about it. Additionally, disclose other types of allergies - food, preservatives, animals, or dyes, if there are any. Read the package ingredients carefully and make sure you are not allergic to any of its ingredients.
Pediatric: Safety and efficacy of use in children are not established.
Geriatric: Studies show that no geriatric-specific problems that would stop the use of this drug in the elderly.
Pregnancy: There are no adequate studies done to show efficacy and side effects of this drug in pregnant women.
Breastfeeding: Although there are no adequate studies in lactating mothers that determine potential risk in an infant when breastfeeding, the benefits should be weighed against the risks before taking this medication.
Drug Interactions: Some drugs have adverse effects when used together. Make sure to inform your doctor about other drugs you are taking, so that alterations and precautions will be made if necessary.
Before using Naltrexone, talk to your doctor about the possible interactions if you are taking other medications. It is also important to inform your doctor if you are smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol since these may interact with the drug’s effectiveness.
Inform your doctor about any drug you are using, prescription or nonprescription, as well as vitamins and herbal supplements before using this drug.
Other Medical Problems: If you have other medical condition, how you use this medicine may be affected. Inform your doctor about any other health problems you have, especially, kidney disease, bleeding problems, mild to moderate liver disease, lung or breathing problems, or thrombocytopenia, since using this drug may make these conditions worse.
Moreover, patients with drug dependence, opioid withdrawal, who are receiving opioid analgesics, or tested positive on opioid urine test should not use this drug.
Proper usage of Vivitrol requires strict adherence to your doctor’s orders. This drug is given through an injection into the gluteal muscle once a month or every 4 weeks.
In alcoholics, naltrexone injection is only given to those who can abstain from alcohol and do not require an overnight hospital stay. Call your doctor immediately in case you missed a dose.
4 Precautions to Take
If you take Vivitrol, your doctor should perform routine checkups and advise you in taking precautions. This is to make sure your doctor monitors your progress and to see if there are any unwanted side effects caused by this drug.
Using this drug may cause serious liver problems. If you notice having dark urine, upper stomach pain, or yellowing of the eyes or skin, inform your doctor right away.
Using this drug may also increase your risk for eosinophilic pneumonia, a type of lung disease. It may also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by itching, rash, hoarseness, swallowing and breathing difficulties, or swelling on the face, mouth, or hands.
Before starting to use naltrexone, you need to stop narcotics use for at least 7 days. Your doctor may require you to undergo several tests, such as a urine test or naloxone challenge test to make sure you are opioid-free. Do not use any other narcotic drugs, including heroin, during treatment.
Naltrexone makes you more sensitive to opioids, even at lower doses and taking narcotics only ups your risk for an overdose or in developing serious problems.
Using this drug may also bring in suicidal thoughts. Inform your doctor right away if you feel more depressed or are having suicidal thoughts during the course of treatment. Moreover, inform your doctor if you have strong or sudden feelings, such as nervousness, anger, restlessness, violence, or frightfulness.
Follow your doctor’s orders when taking this drug. As it is usually a part of treatment, you have to make sure you are regularly seeing your therapist or attending support gathering regularly.
Never try to reverse the effects of naltrexone by taking narcotics; this may lead to coma or death. This drug does not only blocks the “high” from narcotics, it also blocks their useful effects. Use alternative, non-narcotic drugs when treating cough, pain, or diarrhea.
Carrying an ID card that states you are under naltrexone treatment is advisable in case you have an emergency.
Skin reactions, such as swelling, pain, tenderness, itching, bruising, and redness may occur at the injection site. If these symptoms persist or become worse, contact your doctor immediately. Furthermore, inform your attending doctor in case you are doing medical tests. Using this drug may affect the results of certain tests or procedures.
5 Potential Side Effects
Not all of the side effects listed below may occur in using Vivitrol, but if they do, you may need to get medical attention.
If any of the side effects take place, consult your doctor:
Feeling of pressure
Skin reactions at the injection sites, such as redness, rash, soreness, scarring, swelling, stinging, tingling, tenderness, or ulceration
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