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Medication-Assisted Treatment using Vivitrol and Suboxone

Medication-Assisted Treatment (also known as medication-assisted therapy or MAT for short) is a method of treatment that includes the use of medications in addition to counseling and behavioral health therapies as part of Lakeview Behavioral Health’s Intensive Outpatient Services offerings, with an ultimate goal of a full and sustaining recovery. This treatment program is proven effective in treating substance use disorders and preventing opioid overdose, providing great opportunity for success in recovery from an opioid addiction and alcohol dependence. The medication options administered along with a tailored therapy plan at Lakeview Behavioral Health are Vivitrol and Suboxone, both of which are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms, decrease cravings, and prevent use of heroin, opioids, and alcohol.

The way opiates like heroin work is by attaching to brain cell receptors, causing an influx of neurotransmitters and brain activity, namely the release of dopamine that produces the high and can lead to physiological dependence and for some people ultimately addiction. The goal with Vivitrol and Suboxone medications is to block these receptors or how they react to opiates. Which medication is right for each patient will be included in the preparation of the patient-tailored treatment plan by your provider at Lakeview Behavioral Health.


Vivitrol is a non-opioid-based medication that attaches to these receptors, causing a reduction in withdrawal symptoms because it works to block the release of dopamine. It is called an opioid antagonist because it opposes the effects of opioids in the brain. This means an opioid relapse will not have the same effects as it once did, breaking the psychological barrier that pairs the high with the drug, leading to elimination of drug dependence. Vivitrol does not come without risks and side effects, however, which your provider will discuss with you in detail. The main risks are reactions at the site of the injection and a lower tolerance to opioids, increasing the changes of overdose. It is important that you tell your family and the people closest to you of these risks, especially the increased sensitivity to opioids and the greater risk of overdose.


Unlike Vivitrol, Suboxone is an opioid-based medication. But unlike heroin, morphine, oxycodone/oxycontin, and other opiates, its effects on a person are limited. While Suboxone still attaches to brain cell receptors, the effects are released over a longer period of time, which starves off the withdrawal symptoms and, like Vivitrol, helps break the psychological barrier that pairs the high with the drug. Any mild euphoric effects of Suboxone will tend to plateau, meaning the effects reduce or go away completely. This helps manage opioid dependence. Suboxone also contains an opioid antagonist called naloxone that acts as deterrent to Suboxone abuse by reducing withdrawal symptoms, but only activates if the drug is used other than as prescribed. Like Vivitrol, there are risk and side effects that need to be understood, managed, and communicated with family and those closest to you. The use of opioids and alcohol while taking either medication can be dangerous.

The goal with medication-assisted treatment and these medications is to feel normal, not high, to reduce or eliminate opioid dependence, and to live a sustainable, non-dependant life. And at Lakeview Behavioral Health, we offer a wide variety of services for substance use disorders, mental health services, and medication management. With our locations and expanding service offerings in northern Minnesota, there is access to these services closer to home.

Please, contact our office at 218-327-2001 or stop in if you or someone you know can benefit from these programs.