Vivitrol Injections Reduce Relapse Rate Among People Addicted to Opioids: Study

A new study finds monthly injections of the anti-addiction medication extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol) can significantly decrease relapse rates among people addicted to opioids. The study included 153 adults who formerly had been incarcerated and had a history of opioid dependence.

Participants received monthly injections of naltrexone, which blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. They were compared with 155 participants who did not receive the drug, but were referred for “usual care,” generally consisting of brief counseling and referrals to treatment programs, according to HealthDay.

After six months, 43 percent of those receiving Vivitrol had relapsed, compared with 64 percent of those who did not receive the drug. It took twice as long for people in the Vivitrol group to relapse compared with the non-treatment group.

One year after treatment ended, both groups were using opioids at a similar rate. An additional two overdoses occurred in the non-treatment group, while there were no overdoses in the Vivitrol group. The results suggest Vivitrol should be used for more than six months, the researchers said.

The study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We believe our study is the first of its kind to look at the real-world effectiveness of extended-release naltrexone in community settings,” lead author at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York said in a news release. “It may be particularly effective with populations, such as recently released prisoners, who typically don’t have access to other evidence-based daily medications for opiate disorders, like methadone or buprenorphine.”

Last year, Lee published a study that found Vivitrol was associated with a much lower rate of heroin relapse in men who have been released from jail, compared with released inmates addicted to heroin who are not given treatment. The study included 33 men who had been incarcerated by the New York City Department of Corrections.

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    April 7, 2016 at 8:28 PM

    I have been trained in the use of Vivitrol. It was first advertised for alcohol dependence. Most is not all insurance companies refuse to pay for it. The cost can be prohibitively expensive. Doctors visit, cost of medication about $800.00 per month; and injection site complication such redness, swelling, irritation. If the person is willing not to use opiates and is able to abstain this is a choice if they can afford it. I have found most physicians prefer to prescribe oral naltrexone which is taken daily for motivated patients as the cost is much less. However, most do not take the medication as prescribed and continue to abuse opiates.

    Similar to the past use of Antibuse for alcohol dependence, these medications only work if the patient is truly motivated and able to abstain.


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