Vivitrol, a newer medication used for opioid addiction and alcohol dependence, has been frequently underutilized due to cost, but healthcare professionals are becoming more aware that the drug save lives and may increase long term recovery.

If you or a loved one is dependent on opioids, historically treatment included methadone or soboxone. After an overdose, individuals are given narcan or naloxone to reverse the effects of opioids. Although narcan has been instrumental in resuscitating individuals overdosing on opioids, it does not address the actual addiction according to Dr. George Petruncio M.D, of Turnersville.

According to Petruncio, “Vivitrol is the newer non addictive treatment that is a proactive approach to opioid addiction and alcohol dependence”. Injected monthly, the drug blocks the same nerve receptors impacted by opioids, inhibiting the pleasure center. As a result, according to Petruncio, “addicts are unable to feel the effects of drugs like morphine, hydrocodone, and even heroin, rendering opioids useless”. Petruncio noted that “before administering Vivitrol, patients serious about recovery must first sign an affidavit indicating they have not taken any opioids in the last seven days, and must sign a contract agreeing to enroll in rehabilitation and actively participate in the program”. “Vivitrol can be used long term with fewer side effects”, Petruncio said.

Patients with health insurance may be able to receive a 0% co-pay. However Medicaid patients may not be approved for treatment due to the higher cost. Often Medicaid clients addicted to opioids are more likely to be prescribed methadone and soboxone. Although these treatments may be effective and offered at a lower cost, “they are essentially replacing one narcotic for another”, according to Petruncio. Petruncio finds that administering Vivitrol yields impressive results.