Your Ultimate Guide to Vivitrol Treatment for Alcoholism

gloved hand holding a Vivitrol shot

Once you are dependent on alcohol, quitting drinking isn’t easy. Although traditional treatment methods use a primary therapeutic approach to treating alcohol addiction, 21st century medical and technological advances have changed the way many providers treat alcohol use disorder. Today, there are many pharmaceutical ways to aid in the treatment of alcohol addiction. One of the most popular medications that are used in the treatment of alcoholism is Vivitrol.

Vivitrol is the brand name for a once-monthly injection of naltrexone – a drug that is used to help people stay sober by reducing cravings for drugs and alcohol. While other forms of naltrexone are available in pill form, Vivitrol requires less maintenance as it is only injected once a month. By changing the way the brain processes and thinks about alcohol, these medications can prevent cravings and help support sustained sobriety.

If you or a loved one have come to terms with the fact that you need help with a drinking problem, our Vivitrol treatment program in Memphis may be right for you.

What is Naltrexone?


Before starting naltrexone, people should complete a urine screening to ensure that there are no opiates or other substances present in the body. Furthermore, people should only start taking the drug once they have completed a medical detox program or their bodies are clear from all traces of opioids or alcohol.

When prescribed in oral tablet form, naltrexone is taken once daily or as directed by a doctor. Most patients will start by taking 50mg a day, but some may require a higher dose. However, naltrexone also comes in the form of an intramuscular injection, otherwise known as the Vivitrol shot.

The Vivitrol Shot: How it Works

Vivitrol is an extended-release intramuscular injection of naltrexone that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 for the treatment of alcoholism. People receiving this type of treatment should not be drinking when they start taking the drug, as it may cause adverse effects.


Patients undergoing Vivitrol treatment will receive the intramuscular injection once a month in the buttocks. One of the primary concerns about naltrexone pills is that people fail to comply or forget to take a dose. However, with Vivitrol, the chances of non-compliance are reduced due to the extended-release feature of the medication. Furthermore, Vivitrol usually causes only minor side effects, with the most common side effect being redness or irritation at the injection site.[2]

Local doctors who prescribe Vivitrol must complete special training and certification before they can use these medications in the treatment of alcoholism or opioid addiction. Throughout the course of treatment, doctors will monitor patients, adjust their dose accordingly, and make the appropriate recommendations.

Even though Vivitrol treatment is a great option for people who are trying to overcome alcoholism, it should always be used in combination with psychotherapy and peer support. Medications may be able to reduce alcohol cravings, but therapy and support groups are the means by which people stay sober in the long-term.

Comprehensive Vivitrol Treatment

Vivitrol works best when combined with a comprehensive alcohol treatment program. In fact, FDA trials studying the medication found that patients who receive Vivitrol are more likely to remain in treatment for the entire course compared to their counterparts. Furthermore, some studies suggest that Vivitrol is just as effective as other medication-assisted treatment medications, such as Suboxone.[3] By increasing treatment retention rates, people are able to spend more time in therapy and take advantage of all of the tools and resources that their treatment provider has to offer.

While taking Vivitrol, people may participate in inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment programs. These programs will consist of behavioral counseling, holistic healing therapies, and peer support groups.

First, intensive counseling helps patients uncover the root causes and conditions of their drinking. Whether it be untreated mental illness, genetic risk factors, or trauma, everyone has a reason why they drink the way that they do. Therapy helps patients heal from underlying problems that would otherwise drive them to relapse. Similarly, therapists will arm patients with coping skills and stress reduction techniques that will help them cope with difficult emotions without picking up a drink.

Holistic healing methods, on the other hand, aim to provide a “whole-patient” approach by treating the mind, body, and soul. Patients may learn how to relax, enjoy downtime, or cope with triggers through daily activities such as meditation, yoga, adventure therapy, and more.

The final aspect of our comprehensive Vivitrol treatment program in Memphis is peer support. Alcoholism is a progressive and chronic disease that requires long-term treatment and support. While counseling may be unrealistic in the long term, recovery support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) help provide individuals with community and guidance throughout their recovery.

Individuals who take Vivitrol while participating in alcohol treatment will be able to focus fully on their recovery because they won’t be preoccupied with thoughts of drinking. As a result, this treatment approach is associated with better treatment outcomes, lower relapse rates, and less risky behaviors after treatment.

Find Vivitrol Treatment Near You Today

Overcoming alcoholism isn’t easy, but with the help of Vivitrol and a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program, you don’t have to do it alone. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, our drug and alcohol rehab program proudly offers medication-assisted treatment including Vivitrol to patients suffering from alcohol addiction. When you choose PAX Memphis for your alcohol rehab provider, you will have access to unparalleled patient care, community support groups, and therapeutic interventions that will pave the way for long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one is ready to quit drinking for once and for all, contact us today to see if Vivitrol treatment is right for you.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.