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Naltrexone (Vivitrol and ReVia) – Treatment for Heroin Addiction

What is Naltrexone

Naltrexone is another treatment option that can help heroin and/or opiate users conquer their addiction. It also comes in different forms. The two most popular are ReVia and Vivitrol. Both are name brand products containing Naltrexone however, both are administered differently.

Vivitrol vs ReVia – Naltrexone Products

Vivitrol is taken intramuscularly, in other words, in the form of a needle or a shot while ReVia is taken orally. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), both drugs create the same effect and can promote recovery by suppressing the brain’s response to opiates. While neither option will completely eradicate withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin use, Vivitrol and ReVia can lower the chances of experiencing a relapse, therefore increasing your chances of a successful recovery.

What is Naltrexone and How Does it Work?

Much like Suboxone and Methadone, Naltrexone belongs to a class of opioid antagonists. It is used to assist in the prevention of withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with heroin or opiates and promote recovery from one’s drug of choice (DOC). Similarly to other treatments for heroin addiction, it also blocks heroin , oxycodone, etc. from connecting to opiate receptors in the brain preventing Naltrexone patients from experiencing the “high” or feelings of euphoria associated with heroin/opiates.
Vivitrol and ReVia work best when used in conjunction with other methods of therapy such as individual or group counseling, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), etc.; lifestyle changes and monitoring by a health care professional.

Naltrexone products such as Vivitrol and ReVia cannot be taken in conjunction with any other opiate, including Methadone, as this will send the patient into immediate withdrawal – creating horribly sick feelings heroin and opiate addicts dread.

However, one marked difference between Naltrexone and the other two aforementioned medication assisted treatments is that Naltrexone can also be used to treat alcohol abuse. Ultimately, it can assist people with minimizing or even eliminating alcohol use by reducing desire to drink – especially when used in conjunction with counseling therapy and lifestyle changes.

According to the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), Naltrexone is most effective during the first three months of recovery. This reduces the risk of a relapse by 36% in the first 90 days of being on Naltrexone. However, studies suggest that this drug is not as effective at promoting long term successful recovery as the other medication assisted treatment options are. This includes Methadone and Suboxone.

Naltrexone Quote

Vivitrol or ReVia – Which Naltrexone Product is Right For Me?

ReVia is an oral medication that’s taken daily and in the privacy of your own home. Some treatment centers/clinics provide/administer ReVia as part of a program but this is not a requirement for this treatment option.

ReVia is an oral medication. This is taken daily, and can be taken in the privacy of your own home. It can be taken at a clinic or treatment center as well, but this is not a requirement for this treatment option. Alternatively Vivitrol is a long acting medicine taken as a monthly injection or shot that is provided by a health care professional.

According to a study that was published in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, using Vivitrol over ReVia may increase chances of successful recovery and prevent relapse. Data shows that Vivitrol provides a steady stream of the opiate antagonist that lasts in your blood stream for weeks, as opposed to hours.

Those deciding between the two will need to decide whether or not they’d rather take a daily medication or visit their health care practitioner once a month. Taking daily medication requires discipline and thus, those who choose ReVia must remember to take it every day. They also need to decide whether or not they prefer oral medication or an injection and consider studies showing long term success.

Advantages of Naltrexone

One of the marked advantages of this treatment option is that it contains no addictive properties, which is not the case for Methadone or Suboxone. Both Naltrexone products have both saved a number of lives, particularly Vivitrol. Since Vivitrol is a monthly injection as opposed to a daily pill, it’s been able to keep many out of the dangerous cycle of falling back into active addiction.

When taking Naltrexone, it creates a sense of happiness, but without the desire for other opiates – thus, reducing cravings. It is not a “high” that can be associated with heroin, but rather a soothing sensation that promotes relaxation and diminishes the desire for drugs. Finally, treatment with Naltrexone products typically lasts 3 months as opposed to other treatment options that may be needed/required for over a year.

Disadvantages of Naltrexone

So if Naltrexone treatment is only required for 3 months, why aren’t more people doing it? Regrettably, nobody can take Vivitrol or ReVia until the heroin and/or opiate user has ceased using for at least two weeks. This means painful withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely difficult to manage. Since most heroin or opiate addicts will do almost anything to escape withdrawal symptoms, this option isn’t for everyone.

How would I get Naltrexone

To get Naltrexone, one typically starts by making an appointment with a health care professional. You can also discuss this treatment option with a counselor who will direct you with more specifics on how to acquire it.


Vivitrol and ReVia are great options for some but it’s not for everyone. There are a number of medicine assisted treatments available and ultimately, you need to decide what is best for you.

To discuss Naltrexone (Vivitrol and ReVia) with others who have used it before visit our Heroin Addiction & Recovery Discussion forum. In particular, you can visit the Naltrexone (Vivitrol and ReVia) forum. For up to date news on various treatments, clinics and more, visit our Addiction & Recovery Blog

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