What is Vivitrol?
In the ever-developing battle against chemical dependency, the scientific community has made leaps and bounds in creating medicated deterrents to help support lasting recovery for those in the growing sober community. Vivitrol is one of the newest drugs in a long line of chemically formulated deterrents for opiate abuse. Naltrexone, the chemical in Vivitrol is administered via a monthly intramuscular shot. Its main mechanism of action blocks opiate receptors in the brain, negating the euphoric and pain relieving properties of any opiates ingested within that month. Vivitrol has the added bonus of reducing the subject’s urge to drink, as many of the receptors responsible for the euphoric effects of opiates overlap with alcohols. The subject is still able to get drunk, but the effect is significantly less pleasurable for the user.
The biggest reason for the success of Vivitrol in recent years is the duration of its effects. An addict who is taking Suboxone (which also contains Naltrexone) only needs to discontinue taking the drug for several days before they are able to experience the pleasurable effects of opiates again. Vivitrol injections are designed to last an entire month, making it nearly impossible for the addict to submit to their short-term desires for a high. As long as the recovering person has the motivation and desire for sobriety necessary to visit their doctor once a month, they can stay off opiates without worrying about situations that might trigger behaviors that would usually end in them getting high.
Despite its success, many purists in the recovery community argue that using an extended release injection of naltrexone as a deterrent is not a significant form of sobriety. Vivitrol is simply a tool to be used by those in early sobriety who may not feel confident in their own decision making skills. In the traditional sense, Vivitrol is just a Band-Aid over the ever-present wound of addiction, and those who rely on Vivitrol without pursuing a life based around spiritual principles in an effort to find meaning outside of themselves aren’t necessarily in recovery; they just aren’t using drugs.
Drugs like Naltrexone can help addicts maintain and live normal and fulfilled lives, but their dependency on Naltrexone means that they haven’t truly liberated their spirit from the grips of addiction. Both NA and AA believe that dependency on any drug will complicate spiritual progress within the program, but from a functional point of view, it is a very useful option for addicts haven’t developed the spiritual fortitude and disciplinary strength to stay away from their drug of choice on their own volition. It can however, give the addict some much needed relief from the endless game of hide and seek with opiate withdrawals long enough for them to pursue some serious avenues of spiritual self-discovery and affirmation.