How long does Vivitrol stay in your system?

Vivitrol injections trigger an initial, transient peak about 2 hours after administration, which is followed by a second peak occurring approximately 2-3 days after injection. More on how Vivitrol metabolizes here.

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Vivitrol is taken once a month by injection into a muscle in the buttock. It works to help control cravings by for alcohol or drugs keeping naltrexone at a stable level in the system.  But, how long does it really stay in the body? How is it metabolized? And are there any side effects to using this medication, including Vivitrol’s addictive potential?

We answer these and other questions here. Then, we invite your questions at the end. In fact, if you’d like to add or ask something, feel free to use the comments section to contact us, and we’ll do our best to provide a personal and prompt response.

How do you take Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of naltrexone administered by intramuscular injection.  The medication is injected by a doctor or a nurse into patients once a month, and the dose is adjusted according to a person’s medical condition and response to treatment. For best results, patients should take regular monthly shots while continuously working on their recovery and treatment progress.

Before a person is given a prescription for Vivitrol, doctors should check for recent drinking or opiate drug use. Any opiate drugs (illicit or prescription) should not be used 10-14 days before starting Vivitrol. Likewise, alcohol should not be used at least a week before taking the first Vivitrol.

Main Vivitrol uses

The Vivitrol shot is used in combination with appropriate treatments such as behavioral or psychotherapy as a part of a holistic addiction treatment program. As a therapy, it can have many benefits for the recovering alcoholic or addict. More specifically, Vivitrol can:

  • allow patients to concentrate on the treatment process and engage in pleasurable activities
  • block endorphins form attaching to brain cells
  • help patients work on underlying issues that exacerbated drinking
  • lower the risk of relapse in recovering patients
  • obstruct the pleasure and reward alcohol or opiate drugs cause
  • prevent the excessive release of dopamine in the brain
  • reduce cravings and desire for alcohol or opiates

Peak levels and half life of Vivitrol

After a Vivitrol injection is administered, a transient initial peak occurs about 2 hours after, and is followed by a second peak which occurs approximately 2-3 days after injection. Concentrations of naltrexone begin to slowly decline about 2 weeks after dosing, and levels of the medication stay measurable for a month or more. The elimination half life of naltrexone from Vivitrol ranges between 5 to 10 days.

Vivitrol drug testing: How long does Vivitrol stay in the body?

Vivitrol can be detected in the body for up to a month after last dose. However, it is not a drug that doctors and/or employers test for. In fact, Vivitrol has no euphoric properties and is not a drug of abuse for patients. Vivitrol does not produce a high, nor does it create dependence or addiction in patients.

However, before starting Vivitrol therapy, patients need to be tested for recent alcohol or opioid drug use, because of the risk of possible drug interactions and adverse effects. Also, while a patient is on Vivitrol, doctors should run regular tests to monitor the functioning of organs (heart, liver, kidneys…)

Further, Vivitrol contains naltrexone which may interfere with laboratory tests for other substances, so before having any drug test you should tell your doctor and the laboratory personel that you are regularly receiving Vivitrol injections.

NOTE: If you are interested in learning more about drug tests, detection times, and testing settings, please explore more in our definitive guide to drug testing.

Problems with Vivitrol?

As with any other medication, Vivitrol too can produce some unexpected and unwanted effects. Side effects from Vivitrol include:

  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • anxiety
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

If you’ve been using opiate narcotics or opioid pain killers, mild withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. If Vivitrol triggers withdrawal, you might also expect the following symptoms:

  • abdominal cramps
  • restlessness
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • runny nose

Patients should notify their prescribing doctor, a pharmacist or a medical professional if any of these effects persist or are worsened. In addition to these symptoms, pain, redness, swelling, itching, bruising of skin shouldn’t be ignored by patients and should be brought to doctor’s attention as soon as possible.

Questions about Vivitrol in the system

We hope we covered some basic inform about Vivitrol and its use, mechanism of action, and metabolism in the body. If you do have any remaining queries, please post the via the comments section below. We try to provide a personal and prompt answer to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources:  PubMed Health: Naltrexone (injection)
PubChem: Nalterxone
FDA: Vivitrol-Medication Guide
MedlinePlus: Naltexone Injection
OASAS: Vivitrol
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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