As the opioid epidemic soars to new heights in the United States, researchers are exploring more effective options in treatment. Due to the nature of opioid addiction, most treatments include some form of medication-assisted treatment to help overcome withdrawal symptoms and cravings. While some people claim that using medication to treat addiction is counterproductive, research shows that the use of medication in opioid addiction treatment can actually help people stay in recovery longer and improves rates of sobriety.
Currently, opioid addiction and alcoholism are the only two forms of addiction with FDA-approved medications available for treatment. While there are numerous medications available that have proven successful in treatment programs, researchers are still exploring new ways to make treatment more accessible, affordable, and effective.
What is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is a prescription medication with ingredients that are currently used in treatment for opioid addiction, but delivered in a new way. Vivitrol uses naltrexone to block opioid molecules from attaching to receptors in the brain, meaning users will not achieve highs and will simultaneously experience a reduction in cravings. Where it differs from traditional treatment is in how it is administered. Vivitrol is an injectable medication that is administered once per month. Rather than taking medication orally, Vivitrol acts as an extended-release treatment option that reduces cravings and the risk of relapse.
Vivitrol and medications like it should be used in conjunction with traditional therapeutic options, as they cannot work alone to treat addiction. Medications like Vivitrol tend to be preferred over other types of medication used to treat opioid addiction because there is no risk for addiction to the medication itself. Other forms of medication that may be used in treating opioid abuse run the risk of being misused because they can produce highs and cause withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. Vivitrol does not cause euphoria, physical dependence, or withdrawal symptoms.
Vivitrol is more widely available than other medications used in treating opioid addiction. Any medical professional that can prescribe medications can provide Vivitrol to patients. Other medications—such as buprenorphine—require special qualifications to carry and prescribe, or may only be available through certain outlets, such as specialized treatment programs.
Vivitrol is a newer medication which makes it considerably more expensive than other options, but it’s unique administration and effectiveness have helped make it widely available to those in recovery. In addition, the makers of Vivitrol have offered ways to help clients reduce or eliminate the co-pay for the medication in order to make it more easily accessible.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence
Before starting medication-assisted treatment, clients must not be under the influence of opioids. Many medications can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but may not fully eliminate them. For this reason, use of medication alone to treat opioid addiction is not recommended, and it is imperative that treatment be paired with a recovery program designed to address the unique needs of each client. Behavioral therapies, education, medication, and relapse prevention all work together to help a person achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.
Addressing the underlying issues that lead to the development of addiction is critical in recovery. Medication-assisted treatment can provide clients with relief from the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that may interfere with recovery, allowing them to focus on their needs and develop the tools to prevent relapse in the future. Treatment can address numerous areas of a person’s life that often influences the development of addiction.
Everyone’s journey in recovery is highly individualized, and medication-assisted treatment is simply another tool available to those in treatment to improve their experience. Therapy designed to address the unique needs of a person is critical to aid in recovery and the use of medication can improve the experience.
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