Vivitrol medication side effects (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension, Cephalon) by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
March 20 2016

Vivitrol is approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence in patients who are able to abstain from alcohol in an outpatient setting prior to treatment initiation. Alkermes, Inc., and Cephalon, Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved prescription medication Vivitrol (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension) for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Vivitrol is the first once-monthly injectable medication for alcohol dependence. Vivitrol is indicated for alcohol dependent patients who are able to abstain from drinking in an outpatient setting and are not actively drinking when initiating treatment. Treatment with Vivitrol should be used in combination with psychosocial support, such as counseling or group therapy.

Vivitrol mechanism of action
Vivitrol works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Although the mechanism responsible for the reduction in alcohol consumption observed with Vivitrol treatment is not entirely understood, preclinical data suggests that occupation of the opioid receptors results in the blockade of the neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to be involved with alcohol dependence. This blockade may result in the reduction in alcohol consumption observed in patients treated with Vivitrol.

CNS Drugs. 2013. Extended-release intramuscular naltrexone (Vivitrol): a review of its use in the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence in detoxified patients.

Side effects
JAMA. 2016. Effect of Naltrexone-Bupropion on Major Adverse Cardiovascular Events in Overweight and Obese Patients With Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Clinical Trial. There is a possible heart damage risk with this combination.

Questions
Q. Is Vivitrol drug as good as kudzu herb for alcohol treatment?
   A. There has not been a comparison study between Vivitrol and kudzu, therefore it is difficult to say.

Q. Can Vivitrol be taken the same day as an ahcc supplement?
   A. We have not seen any studies with this combination, so it is difficult to say for sure.

I am trying to find out more information about the use of low dose naltrexone for treating autoimmune diseases. I have found information that there have been clinical trials using low dose naltrexone for multiple sclerosis. I have rheumatoid arthritis and want to know if there is any evidence that it would help me. Do you have any information regarding the use of low does naltrexone for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis?
    A. I have not studied this topic in detail.