Vivitrol vs naltrexone
October 25, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Quitting drinking: What are the differences between Vivitrol and Naltrexone pills?

I want to know if there are differences between the ways Vivitrol and Naltrexone pills work.

I know Vivitrol is a time-released medication. It's typically injected once a month in a 380 mg dose. Naltrexone pills, on the other hand, are prescribed at 50 mg/day. I don't understand how approximately 1500 mg/month (via pills) can be comparable to 380 mg (Vivitrol injection). What are the differences between these methods of administering the medication? Is one better than the other?

I know you are not my doctor. But my doctor--actually three doctors--have not been able to explain this to me. I think the confusion might be related in part to the differing opinions about how Naltrexone should be used (i.e.., abstinence vs drinking while on the drug).

I'm particularly interested in knowing if Vivitrol will work for a person trying the Sinclair Method to quit drinking. I understand that in later months/years of the Sinclair method, a person takes a Naltrexone pill before drinking (so injections at that point would be unnecessary). But in the early stages of quitting, does Vivitrol work in the same way as the daily pills?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
The injected form of naltrexone in Vivitrol is long acting. It's not about the number of milligrams, it's about the formulation of the drug.

In treatments for psychiatric related issues and substances abuse, it seems better to have something that is injectable and long acting, because it doesn't force the patient to make the choice every day whether to take the medicine or not. For addicts and people who are battling schizophrenia etc., sometimes there is a temptation not to take the medication. Having a long acting injection form eliminates that issue. If I were an addict and wanted to get serious about getting off alcohol or opiates or whatever, I would go for the injection while in my soundest state of mind, knowing that at my weaker moments, I would not have to worry that I would let myself down and not take my meds.

It works in both methods the same way - by decreasing the amount you want to drink, because it blocks the pleasurable effects of the alcohol.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:56 PM on October 25, 2010

It would seem that Vivitrol is (for those of us tuning in late) apparently a new formulation of Naltrexone developed for court-mandated administration - something that is expensive and inconvenient with daily pills. The company that developed it is funding test trials in Michigan and Missouri apparently.

You might want to try asking at a special topic forum, such as the Sinclair method Forum - I browsed over it a bit, and it seems that several people who have tried it think Vivitrol is a bad fit for the Sinclair method.

Good luck, and thanks for an interesting question!
posted by Orb2069 at 7:31 PM on October 25, 2010

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