An Alcohol/Opioid-Dependent Brain
When you engage in an stimulating activity, the brain releases chemicals that impact your moods and feelings. When the activity is something you enjoy, your brain releases endorphins that make your body feel good. These endorphins attach to opioid receptors in the brain, and like a key in a lock, “unlock” these opioid receptors. Unlocked receptors are then available to release dopamine, which makes your mind and body feel good as a reward for doing something you enjoy, and this reward makes your brain want to repeat the behavior (i.e., if you really enjoy playing basketball, you will feel happy after playing basketball and want to play again sometime).
When you abuse alcohol, take opioid street drugs like heroin or prescription opioid medications (Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin), they attach to these same opioid receptors, but in a way that results in the release of much greater amounts of dopamine. These excessive levels of dopamine produce a feeling of pleasure stronger than the body experiences naturally – aka a “high”. This type of high quickly causes the brain to become attached and dependent to the source.
What is VIVITROL?
Vivitrol is a monthly injection that, when combined with the counseling of a trained professional, can aid in the effectiveness and maintenance of an addiction treatment program. Vivitrol works as a dopamine blocker, fitting into the brain’s opioid receptors and preventing opioids from attaching to them. Unlike heroin and opioid painkillers, the active ingredient in Vivitrol, Naltrexone, does not activate these receptors in the same way and dopamine is not released. These “blockers” essentially prevent addicts from feeling the high that is normally associated with opioids, and therefore help to reduce cravings and deter relapse. Vivitrol is also effective in the treatment of alcoholism.
One important fact about Vivitrol is that while it may prevent the feelings of intense euphoria associated with opioid or alcohol use, it does NOT interfere with the natural “good feelings” a person may experience in everyday life.
VIVITROL may not be the ideal solution for everyone. Patients receiving VIVITROL, like other addiction recovery medications, should combine the medication with a commitment to recovery and an abstinence program. Patients should also be monitored while taking VIVITROL and continue substance abuse counseling.
To discuss VIVITROL treatment options for opioid and alcohol dependence, or to learn more about treatment programs available at A New Start, Inc., please call us at (561) 571-8849.