Recovery from opioid addiction can often be a difficult process involving a painful withdraw process. Psychological and physical addictions often combine to create powerful cravings that can be extremely difficult to overcome.
Scientists are searching for ways to make the process of treating addition easier and better, so that more people will be able to enter into the recovery process. One medicine that might be able to help is Vivitrol, which was recently approved by the FDA after tests revealed it showed promise for treating opioid addicts and avoiding relapse.
Here are some of the reasons Vivitrol appears to show a lot of promise towards helping people quit opioids and avoid relapse.
1) Acts on the brain to reduce opioid receptors on the brain, so that opioid abuse brings no pleasure
The active ingredient in Vivitrol is naltrexone, which acts as a blocker. The naltrexone attaches itself to parts of the brain that receive opioids, and block them, so that you no longer get any pleasurable but addictive effects from abusing heroin or prescription painkillers.
As a result, the craving simply disappears. Vivitrol is able to do this without reducing the ability of the brain to receive neurotransmitters from activities that bring normal amounts of pleasure.
This means the person taking Vivitrol is still free to pursue normal pleasure from human relationships, exercise, food, and fun activities, but will no longer have a desire for the intense "high" of opioids. Thus, taken alongside therapy and a recovery plan, Vivitrol can ease the detoxification process considerably.
2) Unlike other drugs that reduce opioid addiction, Vivitrol is not addictive itself.
In the past, there have been other drugs that have also been used to help people with opioid addiction, and stave off the cravings and effects of withdraw, most notably, methadone and buprenorphine. The potential problem with these two older drugs is that they themselves are also potentially addictive.
These two substances have their own issues with developing tolerance and dependence, can be dangerous if overdosed. Essentially, these two drugs simply replace the opioid addiction with a new, more benign and manageable addiction.
Vivitrol, on the other hand, removes all craving for opioids completely, and is not addictive itself. This in turn makes a true recovery more obtainable.
3) Vivtrol only needs to be taken monthly to have an impact
At it's core, recovery from addiction is about un-learning the bad habits of an addictive behavior, and learning healthy, new habits in their place. This can be a very difficult element of the recovery process, but it can help to set in motion simple, un-stressful practices that can reduce addictive cravings.
While buprenorphine and methadone have to be taken every day, vivtrol is an extended-release drug, that continues to be effective over the long term. According to current recommended prescription guidelines, it only has to be taken monthly.
Thus, it's a simple and single good habit done every month, that can go a long way to reducing opioid cravings.
4) Vivitrol also some potential for speeding up the withdraw and detoxification process
Under extreme situations, the painful withdraw process from opioid dependence may be deemed too dangerous to simply allow a patient to wait through. If that process is complicated by other health risks, it may sometimes be vaualble to place the patient under anesthesia, and block all the effects of opioids in a somewhat controversial process called rapid detoxification, that has some potential to remove the body's dependence on opioids at an expedited rate.
Because Vivitrol is effective at blocking the high from opioid abuse, it has some potential for this process. However, this use of the drug is something that will require further testing.
5) By reducing the chemical dependence on a monthly cycle, Vivitrol frees you up to peruse recovery in a holistic way
Vivitrol in and of itself is no "miracle drug" that will get rid of your addiction and make your life wonderful again. It can be likened to "turning the volume down" on your addiction, enabling you to hear other voices as well.
In this way, Vivitrol can supplement either group or individual therapy dealing with the root causes of your addiction, helping you to think more clearly about how to live a full life without something you believe you needed.