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What can I take for pain while on Vivitrol?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on May 16, 2023.

Official answer


There are several non-opioid pain medicines that are safe to take if you are on Vivitrol (naltrexone). Which one might be best depends on the type of pain you are trying to treat and your doctor’s recommendation. Some options include acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or topical analgesics you can put on your skin. Your doctor may prescribe other non-opioid pain relievers as well.

Non-drug therapies such as exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or acupuncture may help, too.

Because naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, an opioid pain medicine such as morphine, codeine or oxycodone will not be effective in treating pain, and therefore is not generally an option for people receiving Vivitrol. However, there are several other types of pain medicines that may work.

Some of the medicine options include:

  • Acetaminophen
  • NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen
  • Topical analgesics: Capsaicin, lidocaine or NSAIDs for nerve pain or arthritis
  • Antidepressants: May help nerve pain
  • Anti-seizure medications: May help nerve pain

Pain can be caused by many different things. For example, pain may be a type of headache (such as a migraine) or the result of injury to tissue or damage to nerves. Pain can also be categorized as acute or chronic, according to how long it has existed. These different types of pain can have different qualities (e.g. aching vs. stabbing) and may respond to different medicines.

Sometimes combining non-drug therapies such as acupuncture, massage, biofeedback, relaxation techniques or CBT with medication may provide added benefit.

Vivitrol is a brand name for naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. This means it binds to your body's opiate receptors without providing any of the usual effects of opiates—a pleasure “high,” pain relief or relaxation. By binding to the opiate receptors, naltrexone blocks them from being available to any other opioid that might be used therapeutically or for the purpose of abuse.

Vivitrol is used to prevent people with opioid dependence who are no longer taking opioids from relapsing. It is also approved to treat individuals with alcohol dependence, although exactly how it works to decrease alcohol consumption is not completely understood. Vivitrol is given as an intramuscular injection into the buttocks once a month.

  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Highlights of Prescribing Information: Vivitrol. March 2021. Available at: [Accessed April 15, 2021].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Non-opioid treatments for chronic pain. Available at: [Accessed April 15, 2021].
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Prescription Opioids DrugFacts. May 2020. Available at: [Accessed April 17, 2021].
  4. Warner NS, Warner MA, Cunningham JL, et. al. A Practical Approach for the Management of the Mixed Opioid Agonist-Antagonist Buprenorphine During Acute Pain and Surgery. Mayo Clin Proc. 2020; 95(6): 1253-1267. doi:
  5. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Acupuncture: In Depth. January 2016. Available at: [Accessed April 17, 2021].

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