You're ready to start Vivitrol treatment. What doctors prescribe it, and how can you get started?
You may have heard of an alternative to methadone and Suboxone for opioid addiction treatment: Vivitrol. It’s actually not a replacement for methadone or Suboxone, as it does something entirely different.
Vivitrol is an injectable form of naltrexone, an opioid antagonist which blocks the effects of opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers, thus preventing them from causing highs, and also reducing cravings.  It is a good choice for people who are strongly motivated to quit use of all opioids, including Suboxone. For example, it can be used as a “stepping stone” for patients who are ready to taper off of their Suboxone regimen.
Interested in quitting opioids but not sure which treatment option will work for you? Check out our comparison of Suboxone vs. Vivitrol.
You may know that Suboxone and methadone are highly regulated, and thus only available from approved treatment programs and providers. On the other hand, Vivitrol is not an opioid, and can be provided by any doctor who is licensed to prescribe medication.
Try these few steps to ensure that the process of receiving Vivitrol goes smoothly for you:
1. Find a doctor who can provide Vivitrol.
Try calling your primary care provider to see if they can offer Vivitrol injections. Even if your primary care doc doesn't prescribe the Vivitrol shot, they may be willing to prescribe naltrexone pills, to help you begin your treatment as you find a doctor for Vivitrol treatment.
Alternatively, use the Vivitrol website to find a provider in your area. If you're leaving inpatient treatment, or involved in an outpatient program, your counselor may have a list of providers in your area that offer Vivitrol.
2. Set up an appointment in advance.
It is important to tell your doctor that you are interested in Vivitrol well in advance of when you actually want the injection, so you'll have ample time to quit using opioids and the doctor will be sure to order and receive a shipment of the medication.
In order to take Vivitrol safely, it is necessary to stop use of opioids (including Suboxone) 7 to 10 days prior to the injection. The Vivitrol website has more helpful tips on what you can ask your doctor prior to starting treatment.
3. Follow your doctor’s instructions to abstain from opioids.
Clearly state what opioids you are taking as this affects the length of the withdrawal process. Your doctor may be able to prescribe some non-opioid medications that will help make the transition more comfortable for you.
4. Communicate with your doctor after receiving your injection.
Although Vivitrol is not specially regulated, there are some risks involved - namely that there is potential for overdose if you resume taking opioids, due to your lowered tolerance.  Stay in touch with your doctor to ensure that Vivitrol continues to be the right treatment for you.
Here at Workit Health, we have started to offer Vivitrol alongside Suboxone as an option for opioid use treatment, with an online counseling and medication management program to help keep you on track. Check us out if you are located in Michigan or the Bay Area of California.
Workit Health offers medication & therapy to treat addiction.
Sakura Takahashi is a PhD student at the University of Michigan studying social work and psychology. She is passionate about making mental health services culturally accessible for people around the world.