Is Vivitrol or Suboxone Better for Substance Abuse Treatment?

Recovering from addiction can be a scary process. Recovery needs to be a time where you can focus on yourself and your mental health. But it’s hard to do that if you’re battling withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings. The FDA has approved both Vivitrol and Suboxone for treating substance abuse. But is Vivitrol or Suboxone better for substance abuse treatment?

To answer that question, we’ll have to compare the medications head to head.

Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This opioid agonist has been proven to reduce relapse rates on both a short-term and long-term basis. There’s also research indicating that Suboxone can reduce the chances of dying from an overdose.

Vivitrol is a medication that’s taken by injection once monthly. It has extended-release effects that allow the user to benefit from naltrexone for several weeks. Unlike many other drugs, it doesn’t need to be taken on a daily basis. This makes it ideal for people who drink alcohol or use benzodiazepines, as these substances can interact dangerously with opioids.

Is Vivitrol or Suboxone Better for Substance Abuse Treatment?

Both medications have their own benefits and drawbacks. Before you decide on the right one for you, it’s helpful to know how each works.

Suboxone is an opioid that’s used to treat opioid addiction. It functions more like a traditional medication than Vivitrol. You can take it through tablets, films placed under the tongue, or an extended-release injection once monthly.

The brand name Suboxone only applies to the films. Buprenorphine taken by tablets is called Zubsolv, and injections are called Sublocade.

It may sound strange to use an opioid as a treatment for opioid addiction. But Suboxone does help the recovery process. Opioid medications stimulate the opioid receptors in the body. However, Suboxone only allows partial stimulation of the receptors, rather than full stimulation.

This means that it’s very difficult to get “high” on Suboxone the same way you can with other medications. Effects like euphoria tend to be dulled. But by introducing an opioid to your body, you can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while working on your mental health.

Vivitrol’s active ingredient is naltrexone. Rather than stimulating the opioid receptors in the brain, this medication blocks them. Vivitrol is administered once every month on an extended-release basis. It’s designed to treat alcoholism, heroin addiction, and pain pill addiction.

By blocking the opioid receptors, naltrexone helps to reduce a person’s craving for drugs. If a person does relapse and use opioids, the naltrexone stops them from getting high. The substance can’t bind to the blocked receptors. Vivitrol doesn’t have any potential to be misused because it isn’t an opioid.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Suboxone

Some of the key benefits of Suboxone include:

  • During the withdrawal process, the medication helps improve your mood and reduce physical symptoms. This makes it much easier to get through the process.
  • When administered on a long-term basis, Suboxone is effective at reducing cravings. It’s much easier to recover and focus on your mental health when you aren’t distracted by cravings.
  • Suboxone prescriptions can be written whether you’re just starting recovery or months into the process. An evaluation by a physician is all you need.
  • Suboxone can be taken from home like most maintenance medications.

The potential drawbacks are:

  • Buprenorphine is an opioid, and like all opioids, it has the potential for misuse. The naloxone does tend to prevent this, though, because it causes acute withdrawal symptoms if a person smokes or injects the medication.
  • A doctor must not only be licensed but also have a waiver saying they can prescribe the substance.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Vivitrol

Benefits of Vivitrol include:

  • Opioid receptors are blocked, which leads to fewer cravings.
  • If you do take a substance, you won’t get high.
  • There aren’t extra federal regulations regarding its use, so you don’t have to find a special provider.
  • The injection is given once monthly, rather than being a pill taken every day.

Drawbacks include:

  • You need to be finished with detox before starting the medication.
  • It may reduce your tolerance to opioids, which increases overdose risk.
  • You will not be able to take opioids for 28 days, so if you have a medical emergency requiring painkillers, you may need special help.

The right medication for you will vary depending on your needs. You can talk to your doctor about the best option to help you, both when you’re going through withdrawal and when you’re maintaining long-term recovery.

If you’re ready to recover, you can call 833-762-3739 to talk to one of our counselors.