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Addiction Recovery Program

at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital


Naltrexone is used for the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction and is approved by the FDA. It is an opioid medication, but does not activate your opioid receptors like heroin or oxycodone do. It is NOT abusable or addictive and does NOT cause withdrawal from stopping it. There is no need to taper it. It also does NOT cause any euphoria.

Naltrexone is available in two types: injection and pill form.

  • Injections given every month: Also known as Vivitrol, the medication is injected into your buttocks once a month. The medication cannot be removed from your body once it has been administered, and remains active in your body, blocking opioid receptors for about 28 days.
  • Pills taken by mouth every day: The pills are taken daily, and this method requires that patients take a pill most of the days to make it effective.

There are several benefits to receiving the Vivitrol injection instead of the pill form of naltrexone. They are:

  • A more stable dose in your body.
  • Improved adherence.
  • Lower frequency of side effects.

For alcohol addiction, naltrexone blocks the pleasant feelings when you drink alcohol. This leads to:

  • Reduced cravings for alcohol.
  • Blunted effects of alcohol when alcohol is consumed.

Individuals are able to remain in treatment or obtain help earlier in the course of a relapse, reducing the potential damage that can result from a prolonged relapse.

For opioid addiction, naltrexone blocks opioids from taking any effect. This leads to:

  • Reduced cravings for opioids.
  • Blocking opioids like heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl from making you “high” without blocking your own brain’s ability to enjoy activities, like eating or exercising.
  • Increased risk for overdose if opioids are used after STOPPING naltrexone. Your doctor will talk to you about this risk so you understand.

How do I make an appointment to begin using Vivitrol?

The steps for being accepted for Vivitrol are:

  • Triage pre-screen
  • Telephone intake
  • Medical evaluation (60 minute appointment)
  • Oral naltrexone induction (30 minute appointment)
  • Counseling orientation appointment
  • Vivitrol injection appointment (Infusion Clinic)
  • Monthly appointments with the addiction psychiatrist and injection appointment at infusion clinic
  • Ongoing therapy as needed

Please call 617-983-7060 to complete the triage pre-screen and set up an appointment.

Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital

Offering comprehensive medical, surgical and psychiatric care as well as complete emergency, ambulatory and diagnostic services to residents of southwest Boston and the surrounding suburbs.

Learn more about BWFH