Dealing with opioid addiction can be overwhelming, but there are useful medications available to help you in your fight. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is proven to help reduce cravings and block the effects of opioids. But what medications, in particular, are effective in this pursuit?
Two available options are Suboxone and Vivitrol. Suboxone is a brand name of buprenorphine, and Vivitrol is naltrexone. Both can be safe and effective treatments for opioid use disorder, but there are differences between the two.
Continue reading to find out the advantages and tradeoffs of each and how Vivitrol vs. Suboxone stack up against each other.
Suboxone vs. Vivitrol: A Helpful Comparison
Suboxone is a brand-name, sublingual version of buprenorphine combined with naloxone. Sublingual means it’s manufactured as a film that dissolves under the tongue. Other versions of buprenorphine-naloxone include Zubsolv, which is a sublingual tablet, and Sublocade, a once-a-month buprenorphine-only injection.
Suboxone works by partially filling the opioid receptors in the brain so that the patient does not crave harmful opioids and can function normally day to day. In a Swedish study, patients were given 16 mg of buprenorphine-naloxone a day, followed by a placebo. The treatment failure rate for the placebo was an astonishing 100%, versus 25% for buprenorphine medications.
Vivitrol, on the other hand, contains an active ingredient called naltrexone. Instead of partially filling the opioid receptors, naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids instead. This means it can reduce cravings and prevent someone who relapses from getting high.
In a study looking at Vivitrol, results found it increased the proportion of opioid-free weeks compared with a placebo group.
Both Suboxone and Vivitrol are considered effective medication assisted treatment options, despite their differences. Read on for a Vivitrol vs. Suboxone breakdown.
Suboxone for Opioid Addiction
Suboxone combines Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine diminishes withdrawal symptoms and cravings since it fills opioid receptors partially. Naloxone blocks the effects of other opioids and can reverse the course of an opioid overdose. This is why research shows Suboxone lowers the risk of overdose death.
Suboxone only partially stimulates your opioid receptors, so someone taking Suboxone cannot achieve any euphoric feelings. There’s something called a ceiling effect, which means that no matter how much medication you take, the chances of achieving euphoric effects are low. Because Suboxone is only partially stimulating and has a ceiling effect, there’s a lower risk of misuse with Suboxone.
How it's Administered: Suboxone is placed under your tongue and taken daily. Since it blocks the effects of opioids, it can reduce both cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also blocking the effects of opioids. Suboxone may be taken once or twice a day, and it’s something you can use for months at a time or even years as a maintenance treatment.
Benefits: Suboxone reduces both cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it is less expensive than Vivitrol.
Drawbacks: One of the drawbacks when comparing Vivitrol vs. Suboxone is that Suboxone is intended for daily use, and some people might not be able to keep up with that. Side effects of Suboxone are typically mild and could include stomach upset, dizziness, headache, changes in appetite, or insomnia.
Vivitrol for Opioid Addiction
Vivitrol doesn’t stimulate opioid receptors, so it works differently than Suboxone. Instead, it is an opioid antagonist. This means it binds to opioid receptors and blocks the effects of opioids. Vivitrol can help block the craving for opioids, and if someone were to relapse while on it, it would prevent them from getting high. Vivitrol is also used for alcohol use disorder.
How it's Administered: Vivitrol is injected by a medical professional. The patient will receive the injection once a month. The active ingredient in Vivitrol, naltrexone, can also be taken orally.
Benefits: It’s easier for providers to prescribe Vivitrol since it’s not an opioid, and if you are prescribed the Vivitrol injection, you only have to take it once a month. Oral naltrexone, on the other hand, is intended for daily use.
Drawbacks: Before you can begin Vivitrol, you have to detox from opioids for 7 to 10 days fully. It can also increase your risk of overdose if discontinued because it reduces opioid tolerance and increases sensitivity.
What Costs More: Vivitrol or Suboxone?
Suboxone is more cost-effective than Vivitrol. It’s likely that insurance will cover the cost of Suboxone or Vivitrol, but it depends on your plan and provider. You may also be eligible for out-of-pocket savings programs from the manufacturers. An insurer may be more likely to require prior authorization for in-office treatments like Vivitrol, as compared to something you take at home, like Suboxone.
Get Help Today at MATClinics
If you’re struggling with opioid use disorder, it’s important to know that resources and treatment are available. MATClinics offers accessibility to medication-assisted treatment and also offers behavioral therapy for patients that are interested.
There are proven treatments available in the battle against addiction. Contact MATClinics today to learn more about the options available to you.