Opioid addiction and opioid use disorder continue to be at epidemic levels in this country. Lives are continually being lost daily due to overdose, and mainly from the powerful and dangerous drugs heroin and fentanyl.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Drug overdose deaths involving any opioid―prescription opioids (including natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone), other synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl), and heroin―rose through 2017 with 47,600 deaths. In 2018, deaths remained steady followed by an increase in 2019 to 49,860 fatalities. Nearly 70% of deaths occurred among males. From 2018 to 2019, the number of deaths involving prescription opioids declined to 14,139. (NIDA)
Two of the medications approved by the FDA for use in OUD are Vivitrol injections (naltrexone) and Narcan spray (naloxone). Both of these medications are effective treatment options, however, they do have notable differences.
Table of Contents
What are Vivitrol Injections?
Vivitrol or naltrexone extended-release is an opioid antagonist medication that is given as a once-monthly injection into the muscle. Vivitrol works by binding to the opioid receptors or pleasure centers in the brain to block the effects of opioids.
Vivitrol is used to prevent relapse in those that have detoxed off of opioids or alcohol after having developed a dependence. It is not a controlled substance, does not cause any euphoria, and is used in the maintenance treatment of opioid use disorder.
What is Narcan Spray?
Narcan or naloxone is an opioid antagonist that is used in life-threatening emergencies. It is sprayed in the nose to temporarily and immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Narcan is an extremely quick-acting antidote for opioid overdose.
The Characteristics of Vivitrol Injections and Narcan Spray
Even though both the Vivitrol injection and Narcan spray are opioid antagonists and treat opioid use disorder, they work in completely different ways. Here are some of the biggest differences:
Narcan Spray (naloxone)
- Available without a prescription in emergencies.
- Available in a generic form.
- Comes in a nasal spray.
- Also comes in injection and auto-fill injection.
- The length of treatment is minutes to an hour because it is only used to counter opioid overdose. Short-term use.
- Has a quick action time which is what makes it suitable for reversing an overdose.
- Opioid withdrawal symptoms are possible lasting effects of the medication.
Vivitrol Injection (naltrexone)
- Available by prescription only.
- Not currently available in generic form.
- Comes in a once-monthly injection.
- Also comes in a daily pill or capsule, a liquid cream, or sublingual drops.
- The length of treatment is typically long-term. Treatment beyond 3 months is most beneficial. Long-term use.
- Commonly used In medication-assisted treatment.
- Has a longer action time which makes it more suitable for treatment.
- Some of the rare but possible lasting effects can include arthritis, liver damage, and respiratory infections.
Both Vivitrol injections and Narcan spray provide many advantages in the fight against opioid addiction. Even though lives are still being lost daily due to this serious epidemic, a lot of lives have been saved with these two medications.
There is still a lot of work to be done before the opioid epidemic starts improving, but treatment advances and studies are being done every day. Hopefully, the US will get a handle on the opioid crisis before things get even worse.
Evidence-Based Treatment for Opiate Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our cutting-edge addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-term sobriety. You don’t have to continue suffering, give us a call today and let us help you recreate your life.