Vivitrol (naltrexone) is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder. It’s an intramuscular extended-release medication, meaning it’s injected into the muscle and can last anywhere from 12 to 14 hours. Naltrexone is normally prescribed and administered by a practitioner licensed to prescribe medications, and it is also available in pill form for alcohol use disorder. Although it’s heavily regulated, below are some naltrexone drug interactions to be mindful of if you’re going to take this medication.
Naltrexone is not an opioid, is not addictive, and does not produce withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. Instead, this drug blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids like heroin, morphine, and codeine by blocking these drugs from attaching to opioid receptors. When it binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system (CNS), and throughout the body, naltrexone also reduces opioid cravings, which supports abstinence and reduces the risk of relapse.
For alcohol, naltrexone works by binding to endorphin receptors in the body, blocking the effects and feelings of alcohol. Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings and the amount of alcohol consumed. Once a patient stops drinking, taking this medication can greatly reduce cravings and the desire to drink.
Before taking Vivitrol, it’s important to speak to your doctor about any medications, supplements, or other substances you should avoid taking. Below are some naltrexone drug interactions that could possibly occur if you aren’t careful.
Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist medication that can lead to withdrawal symptoms and other negative reactions if the individual uses opioids during treatment. Common cough relievers and opioids to avoid while taking Vivitrol include:
Taking opioids again after using Vivitrol can also lead to overdose. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, and patients who try to counteract this blocking effect by taking large amounts of opioids risk experiencing coma, overdose, and even death. These risks may also present themselves in cases when the individual has reduced tolerance to opioids due to abstinence and suddenly tries to use opioids again.
Similar to how it works for opioid use disorders, naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication (or the “buzz”) from alcohol. This allows individuals with alcoholism to reduce their drinking enough to remain in alcohol addiction treatment and avoid relapse. Over time, their cravings for alcohol will also dissipate, making abstinence easier to sustain.
With this in mind, a Vivitrol and alcohol interaction can lead to impairment – such as slowed thinking and poor coordination – and hangover-like symptoms like nausea and headaches. Patients may also report worse withdrawal symptoms when on Vivitrol, but this normally occurs when they drink while taking the medication in an attempt to experience a “buzz.”
Dangerous Vivitrol drug interactions also include those involving any CNS depressants, such as sedatives, tranquilizers, or other substances in these drug classes. Considering that opioids and alcohol are both considered depressants, it’s no surprise that combining depressants and Vivitrol can also lead to negative reactions. These reactions may include impairment, hangover-like symptoms, and possible overdose. Using these substances following Vivitrol treatment can also lead to adverse reactions.
If you or someone you know is battling addiction or struggling in recovery and needs support, our Illinois addiction treatment can help. Not only do we offer substance-specific programs, but we also provide Vivitrol treatment for those who are interested in and qualify for this form of care.