Opioid dependence is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that changes how the brain works and affects behavior. People with opioid dependence cannot simply stop using opioids for a few days and be cured of their dependence. Most patients need ongoing care.1,2 That’s why it’s important for you or your loved one to work with a healthcare provider to determine treatment goals and discuss if VIVITROL is a right fit.

Whether you’re on an opioid-free recovery journey, or thinking about starting one, writing down your recovery goals can help you stay focused. The Goal Setting Worksheet is designed to encourage and support you along the way.


The human brain is stimulated by everything you do. When you do something you enjoy (such as eating delicious food), your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, also known as endogenous opioids. Endorphins attach to opioid receptors in the brain causing them to release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine gives you a good feeling to reward you for doing something, which makes you want to repeat these behaviors.

Illicit opioids (such as heroin) and opioid pain medications attach to some of the same receptors as endorphins, or endogenous opioids. However, opioids cause the release of more dopamine than normal enjoyable activities do, causing a “high.” When the high ends, the brain craves this feeling again.


Medications for treating dependence work by interacting with some of the same receptors in the brain that are triggered by opioids. When used with counseling, medication can help treat the physical effects of dependence.

Counseling and medication target different regions in the brain

The psychological benefits of counseling2

The psychological effects of dependence are very powerful. That’s why addressing these effects is so important—especially when someone is starting recovery. Counseling teaches people effective recovery skills to help prevent relapse. It can also help with:

and personal
positive life
skills and habits
Coping with
relapse triggers,
stressors, and
Reducing the
urge to use
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Counseling and a strong support network are essential to helping people stay in recovery.

VIVITROL is not right for everyone. There are significant risks from VIVITROL treatment, including risk of opioid overdose, severe reaction at the injection site and sudden opioid withdrawal.
See Important Safety Information below. Discuss all benefits and risks with a healthcare provider. See Prescribing Information and Medication Guide.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Treatment approaches for drug addiction. https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/drugfacts-treatmentapproaches.pdf. Updated January 2019. Accessed December 3, 2020.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Drugs, brains, and behavior: the science of addiction. https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/soa.pdf. Revised July 20, 2018. Accessed December 3, 2020.
  3. Herz A. Endogenous opioid systems and alcohol addiction. Psychopharmacology. 1997;129(2):99-111.
  4. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Healthcare brief: medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/infobriefs/ondcpMATbrief.pdf. September 2012. Accessed December 3, 2020.