Vivitrol Is Not a Magic Cure-All for Opioid Addiction

Doctor with drug ampule

I remember how excited I was when I first heard about Vivitrol—an opiate blocker that is only administered once a month and comes without the horrible withdrawal side effects that accompany Suboxone and Subutex when discontinued. I loved the idea. If I know a drug won’t get me high and it’s a waste of money to even try, that eliminates the temptation to take the said drug.

Since I figured the first few months of cravings were the roughest when it comes to coming off opiates, I could simply take the Vivitrol shot for a few months until I felt ready and then come off of it. Easy peasy. Except that isn’t what happened, and it’s clear to me in hindsight why it was so detrimental to my recovery. Addicts have creative minds, especially when it comes to feeding addiction.

When I was on Vivitrol, I still wasn’t well and I was using an opiate blocker as the preventative measure to fight my addiction. Almost automatically I went into overdrive thinking of other ways to get high. I became so relieved that I was off the opiates and that I didn’t have to deal with withdrawal anymore, so I gave myself a nice pat on the back for doing so well. In fact, I thought I was doing so well that a light bulb went off that there wasn’t any painful withdrawal from cocaine, and I had nothing preventing me from doing just that.

I started using cocaine casually. I was never a huge fan of this particular euphoria, so I didn’t think it would get too bad—nothing like being on opiates. After a while, and a few sleepless nights, I would finally crash and go to bed for a couple of days—no big deal. I wasn’t having any kind of painful withdrawal symptoms and I was still doing so much better because I was not on the opiates. I gave a silent “thank you” to Vivitrol for getting me away from that demon.

When the 30 days were up, it was time to visit my doctor to re-up on my Vivitrol shot. It’s working, no opiates for a month! I should probably snort a line so I can go in and tell them how happy I am not to be on heroin or painkillers anymore! I smiled through my teeth as they administered the shot. “Things are going so well,” I told them. Perhaps the scariest part about all of this is that I actually believed it. I felt good, I felt free. But I was getting bored with the coke and my nose had been getting raw. I didn’t like that, but I do remember a time I smoked crack. I didn’t like it then, but I had no tolerance to cocaine when I smoked it. Perhaps that’s why? Let’s try it. I smoked it—I loved it. I stayed awake for the next four days, with frantic runs back to my dealer when I ran out. I had no desire to sleep, even though I was becoming extremely irritable. I didn’t like coming down from this. I got emotional, uncomfortable and I had the idea that “I’ll just make sure I have some powder with my crack so that I don’t come down so hard.”

Another 30 days went by. Then another. Before I knew it, 8 months had passed. I was not so happy anymore when I went to the doctor for my next shot, but I tried to fake it. I decided, “this is the last one because I’m doing so well. Haven’t even thought of doing opiates in so long. The 30 days are up. I’m probably sleeping about 8 hours a week. I could use a painkiller. Just once, get me away from the crack and cocaine for a while.” I skipped the shot, got some Oxy, and now I could sleep.

Drug addict

Now that I was rested and not needing the crack or cocaine anymore, I got some heroin, but I was sleeping too much. I thought that If I just had some crack and cocaine to go with it, I wouldn’t nod off all the time. So at this point, I was speedballing, I’ve always heard it was dangerous, but I didn’t care. I was doing so much better on Vivitrol (I thought). I guess I shouldn’t have stopped.

This was just my personal experience on the Vivitrol shot. I didn’t even touch on the numerous overdoses I’ve heard about when people try and overpower Vivitrol with heavier dosages. The problem here is that a person uses Vivitrol as a cure-all when all that really happens is that they have a drug in their system blocking the euphoric effects of a specific drug. It creates a false sense of security and accomplishment that isn’t real because the root of the problem— addiction—is bypassed by what appears to be an easy solution that doesn’t take any work or dedication and can in fact create more problems than it fixes.

“If we want to solve the opiate crisis in this country, we need to stop looking for miracle cures that simply don’t exist. Overcoming addiction isn’t about an “easy fix,” it’s about a lifestyle change…”

If we want to solve the opiate crisis in this country, we need to stop looking for miracle cures that simply don’t exist. Overcoming addiction isn’t about an “easy fix,” it’s about a lifestyle change that can and will happen if a person devotes themselves to making changes and putting in the work to live a drug-free life. If you or anybody you know is seeking help, please reach out.

Justin P—Narconon Suncoast Graduate


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.