Use of opioids (heroin, prescription pain pills) and alcohol can severely impact a person’s health and well-being for the worse. Too often, when individuals try to quit, they experience withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to stop using drugs – not because of a lack of willpower, but because drug use changes the structure and function of the brain. Like other chronic health problems (diabetes, obesity, heart disease), behavior change is not always sufficient on its own to make a full recovery. Sometimes a medication is needed to get the brain and body back on track.

The UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine offers treatment for alcoholism and for opioid dependence at the UCLA Family Health Center in Santa Monica, with a once-monthly injection of naltrexone (Vivitrol©). Naltrexone is FDA-approved to treat alcohol or opioid addiction. It works by blocking a receptor in the brain which diminishes the high an individual would otherwise feel when using these drugs. When used in combination with counseling and support services, patients are more likely to stop using. While this medication has long been available for use in the form of a tablet, patients often relapse when they forget to take their daily pill. The once-monthly injection is designed to overcome that problem by removing the commitment of taking a medication daily.

If you are interested in seeing a UCLA CBAM physician to determine if a naltrexone injection is right for you call (310) 319-4700 or click here to request an appointment online.


CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

© The UCLA Center for Behavioral & Addiction Medicine (CBAM). All Rights Reserved.