naltrexone shot for medication assisted treatment

Can a Naltrexone Injection Help Me Overcome Opioid Dependence?

If you struggle with opioid dependency, Naltrexone might help you quit. It works by blocking the effects of opioids. As a result, you have fewer cravings. Therefore, when used alongside traditional and holistic therapies, Naltrexone injection can further encourage recovery. 

What is Naltrexone?

Naltrexone is a drug commonly used in treating opioid dependence. But, if you use it while still using opioids, it will trigger withdrawal symptoms. So, it is vital to be free of opioids for 7 to 10 days. This period will reduce your risk of withdrawal symptoms. However, the length of time depends on your opioid dependence, the dose, and how long you’ve been dependent. 

Although recovery takes patience and time, the process is worth it. Moreover, treatment centers like Sana Lake are with you every step of the way. Additionally, with the help of doctors and therapists’ help, you will weigh the benefits and risks of naltrexone vs naloxone.

Brand Names for Naltrexone

The brand name for naltrexone injection is Vivitrol. This form is an extended-release that’s injected once a month. However, a naltrexone injection is only used in inpatient settings. 

The oral brand-name form of naltrexone is ReVia. It’s a tablet that’s taken once a day. It is generally taken with food to reduce stomach upset. To make sure you use naltrexone as directed, it’s best to have someone else dispense it. 

Another brand-name for oral naltrexone is Depade. Like ReVia, Depade can lead to stomach upset and other side effects. So, it’s vital for you to eat before taking Depade. 

What is Naloxone?

Sadly, 1 person dies every 12 minutes from an opioid overdose. But, naloxone could prevent these deaths. Naloxone is known by the brand name Narcan. It is a medication that reverses an opioid overdose. 

Using opioids such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone can lead to a life-threatening overdose. And if an overdose is not treated immediately, it can lead to permanent damage and death. 

Three common signs of overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unconsciousness
  • Respiratory depression

Other symptoms of opioid overdose, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Slow heartbeat
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Inability to respond to others

Drugs Naloxone Can Counteract

Beside opioids. Naloxone counteracts the dangerous effects of:

  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone

Uses of Naltrexone vs Naloxone

In opioid dependence treatment, Naltrexone injection works differently than other medications. Some medications, like methadone and buprenorphine help, reduce cravings. But, naltrexone injection takes away any desire to use opioids. It works by blocking receptors, so you don’t experience the “high” effects of opioids.

However, naloxone helps prevent respiratory and CNS depression. These issues happen when breathing has slowed to the point of almost stopping. However, naloxone injection takes effect within minutes. But, naloxone is a temporary fix, and you must seek emergency care. 

Naltrexone vs Naloxone: Using Naltrexone Injection in Addiction Treatment

In addiction treatment, naltrexone vs naloxone works differently. Often, opioids give you a “rush” or “high.” These effects give you a feeling of contentment and pain relief.

But, if you take naltrexone, these feelings are blocked. As a result, your brain stops focusing on the drug. Refocusing allows you to focus on your recovery and a healthy lifestyle.

Although naltrexone injection is common in opioid treatment, it may not stop drug cravings. As a result, it works best if you have completed the withdrawal process. You must also want to succeed in recovery for naltrexone injection to work. 

However, you may be sensitive to even low dose opioids after taking a naltrexone injection. So it is vital to not take any drugs after completing treatment. Above all, the recurrence of use of heroin or other opioids increases overdose risk. 

Naltrexone vs Naloxone: Using Naloxone for Opioid Dependence 

Naloxone is used only to treat an overdose. But, it is not used in the treatment of opioid dependence. However, treatment does require a comprehensive program. Treatment plans should include multiple therapies, support, and relapse prevention. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 10,000 doses of naloxone were given between 1996 and 2010. You may benefit from naloxone if:

  • You have had a long-term dependence on high dose opioids.
  • You consume opioids regularly for chronic pain.
  • You have had a previous overdose.

Administering Naltrexone: Naltrexone vs Naloxone

You can receive naltrexone via a tablet, injectable, and implant device. ReVia and Depade are common brand names for the tablet form. But, naltrexone injection is sold under the brand name Vivitrol.

Naltrexone Tablets

If you take the tablet form of naltrexone, the dose will vary. The dose will depend on the strength of the tablet and the amount needed every day. It is crucial to follow your doctor’s orders. Tablets can be taken in treatment centers or at your house. However, if you take it at home, have someone else give it to you. 

Naltrexone Implant

An implant is another way to give naltrexone. They are small pellets inserted into the lower abdomen wall. To insert the implant you must go under local anesthetic. However, once implanted it releases naltrexone for 3 to 6 months. Because of potential side effects, implants are only available in inpatient settings. 

Naltrexone Injection

Naltrexone injection is an extended-release form of the drug. The naltrexone injection is given once a month in your muscle. For this reason, it is given in a clinical setting. But if you must attend every appointment. If you miss a naltrexone injection, the drug will not be beneficial. It is common to see bruising, swelling, or feel pain after your naltrexone injection. 

Administering Naloxone: Naltrexone vs Naloxone

At the moment, there are 2 forms of naloxone available. Most, if not all, first responders and medical staff have the drug on-hand. But, more states are approving pharmacies to release it.

The nasal spray is a single-use, single-dose device. It is easy and requires no assembly. Above all, a patient only needs to be on their back to receive the drug.

The auto-injector is a single-use device. It is easy to use with one hand. It also gives verbal instructions for use. Although naloxone stops an overdose, it’s temporary. For this reason, you must seek emergency care after taking naloxone. 

Naltrexone Injection Side Effects

Taking naltrexone in any form can cause side effects. But, once you adjust to the naltrexone injection, they typically disappear. However, the minor side effects of naltrexone injection may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite loss

It is vital to discuss all your concerns with your doctor. You shouldn’t start a naltrexone injection without knowing all the side effects. 

Naltrexone Interactions

A naltrexone injection can have unpleasant interactions with other drugs. Naltrexone interaction includes not just other prescription meds. Naltrexone interactions also include over over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal remedies. 

Several common naltrexone interactions include:

  • Opioids
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram
  • Thioridazine
  • Some diarrhea, cough, and pain medications

You should always keep an updated list of all your medications. This list is important because many drugs have interactions. So, before starting a naltrexone injection, you should be aware of naltrexone interactions. 

How Can a Naltrexone Injection Help Me in Recovery?

If you are dependent on opioids or alcohol, naltrexone may help you. But, how it helps is dependent on you and your addiction. For alcohol use disorder, it can stop your desire to drink. In contrast, naltrexone injection stops the effect of opioids on your brain. 

However, naltrexone injection doesn’t treat withdrawal symptoms. But. once you have gone through detox, it can help you in recovery. So, if you are free of alcohol and opioids, then naltrexone injection can prevent recurrence of use

Can Naltrexone be Misused?

Many people wonder if naltrexone injection or tablets can be misused. Also, can you become dependent on naltrexone? However, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there isn’t a risk of addiction. Besides, there are no euphoric feelings that accompany a naltrexone injection. 

Side Effects of a Naltrexone Overdose

In theory, naltrexone overdose is possible. However, it is highly unlikely. But, what is more likely is you would take higher doses of opioids to get high. As a result, you will likely overdose on opioids. 

Because you have to go through detox to receive naltrexone injection, your tolerance to opioids is lower. This change increases the risk of overdose if you have a recurrence of use. Although the risk of naltrexone injection overdose is low, it does come with some uncomfortable side effects. 

Statistics on Naltrexone vs Naloxone

Almost three-quarters of those struggling with opioid use disorder also drink alcohol. Because naltrexone also helps with alcohol use disorder, it can benefit both disorders simultaneously. Drugs like naltrexone increase your chance at a successful recovery. They also reduce overdose rates by 30 to 50 percent. 

Because opioid overdose deaths have tripled over the last 20 years, naloxone needs to be widely available. In fact, naloxone prescriptions jumped up 1170 percent between 2013 and 2015. As a response to the overdose increase, over 600 community programs educate and distribute naloxone. 

How Can I Get a Naltrexone Injection? 

You must have a prescription to receive naltrexone. Your doctor or treatment center will work with you to develop a treatment plan, including naltrexone. However, the form of naltrexone you receive will depend on the treatment setting. 

Get Help Now at Sana Lake Recovery 

Do you or a loved one struggle with opioid use disorder? Are you still curious if naltrexone can help you on your recovery journey? We are waiting to answer all these questions and more. Contact us today and discover a life free of drugs and alcohol. 

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/opioid-addiction-monthly-shot

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/naloxone-injection-route/side-effects/drg-20095285?p=1#:~:text=These%20include%20body%20aches%2C%20a,heartbeat%2C%20and%20increased%20blood%20pressure.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6731a2.htm

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/medications-counseling-related-conditions/naltrexone

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.