Naltrexone is a generic opioid antagonist medication that blocks the pleasurable effects of heroin, opioid painkillers and alcohol. Vivitrol is a brand of this medication, which is administered through a once-monthly injection.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Vivitrol is used primarily to treat people who have a substance use disorder. People who are in recovery from dependency on opioids or heroin may be given this medication. Vivitrol is also used to help people who have an alcohol use disorder. Research has shown that naltrexone may reduce the volume and frequency of alcohol people consume by blocking the effects of alcohol.
Vivitrol should only be taken when a person has abstained from taking heroin or opioids for a minimum of 7-14 days. Taking naltrexone while there are opioids present in the system can trigger immediate and intense withdrawal symptoms.
Drug Overdose Statistics
It is becoming an increasingly popular drug in an attempt to reduce fatalities and medical emergencies associated with opiate overdose. The Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency reported that deaths from drug overdoses increased 23.4 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. The number of deaths, at 26 per 100,000 people, was almost twice the national average of 14.7 per 100,000 people. Opiate drugs were present in 81 percent of fatalities.1
Is Vivitrol Available in Pennsylvania?
Vivitrol and other naltrexone products are legally available in Pennsylvania only by prescription. If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you could discuss with your physician whether you are likely to benefit from taking Vivitrol.
If you are currently attending treatment, you could also discuss the option of taking Vivitrol with medical staff at your facility. Many therapists actively encourage clients recovering from opioid or alcohol use to take some form of naltrexone. Your treatment facility may be able to prescribe the medication.
Outside of addiction treatment, many doctors are not yet well informed about the benefits of Vivitrol. If you think the medication would help you, it may help your case if you can present your doctor with research that demonstrates its benefits.
Various federal and state healthcare programs provide Vivitrol for eligible candidates. Vivitrol is available as a pharmacy benefit in Pennsylvania under Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care plans. It is also available under Medicare, Veterans Administration and Medigap programs.
If you have difficulty finding a healthcare provider that offers Vivitrol injections, you can use the Vivitrol website to search for authorized providers in your area.2
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has launched treatment programs that include offering Vivitrol to prisoners before they are released. The initiative was trialed in women’s correctional facilities before being expanded to men’s facilities in 2015.
Benefits of Vivitrol
When people take the tablet form of naltrexone, they are prone to miss doses, which must be taken daily. This makes them more likely to relapse. A single Vivitrol injection releases the naltrexone gradually and provides enough of the medication to last four weeks. This makes it more reliable than the oral form.
Paying for Vivitrol
This medication is expensive. On average, a single dose of Vivitrol in Pennsylvania costs over $1,200. People with private insurance may be able to recoup some or all of the expense. The manufacturer also offers a discount program on the product’s website.
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