Naltrexone and Naloxone are two critical drugs used in opioid addiction treatment. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts to control opioid addiction, the fatalities continue to rise.
According to a report, the United States witnessed a spike in drug abuse and drug overdose-related deaths with an alarming 35% increase in opioid-related deaths from the year 2019-2020. Today we take one step closer to help in ending opioid addiction by educating about medications used in treatment.
In this blog about Naloxone vs Naltrexone, we will give you a clear understanding of the uses, administration, and mechanism of both these drugs. And how these drugs are helpful in the treatment of opioid addiction and overdose.
Table of Contents
Opioid Addiction Is More Dangerous Than You Think!
Opioids are pain-relieving medications. These include prescription medications and illegal medications such as:
Opioid addiction has become a national crisis. In the year 2019, there were 50,000 reported deaths in the United States due to opioid overdose. These lives could have been saved with timely intervention.
If you are or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, you might have been prescribed Naloxone and Naltrexone. Learning about the proper use will help you prevent any misuse and associated side effects.
Naloxone Vs Naltrexone: 3 Major Differences
1: Both Naltrexone and Naloxone are Used at Different Stages of Treatments
Naltrexone and Naloxone are both opioid addiction treatment medications, but what is the difference? The difference is that both are used during different phases of treatment.
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is also known as Narcan. It is an FDA-approved medication used as an antidote to treat opioid overdose.
Naloxone is used to Reverse Opioid Overdose.
Opioid overdose is a life-threatening condition. WHO lists opioid overdose symptoms as:
Difficulty in breathing
Opioids act as depressants. If you take more than the recommended dose, it suppresses the central nervous system and leads to respiratory distress. During an opioid overdose, the person becomes extremely pale and results in a rapid decrease in heart and breathing rate. The risk increases even more if you use opioids with alcohol.
How Narcan Saves Lives in Opioid Overdose:
Narcan can help restore normal breathing and reverse the effects of overdose because it acts as an opioid antagonist. Opioid antagonists are drugs that bind to opioid receptors to block the impact of harmful opioids.
You can think of Narcan as an emergency rescue medication to save a life from a fatal opioid overdose.
What is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Vivitrol and ReVia. It is an FDA-approved medication prescribed as a part of Medication-Assisted Treatment. It is also an opioid antagonist and works to help you overcome both opioid and alcohol addiction.
Unlike Narcan, which is used as an emergency dose to treat opioid overdose, Naltrexone is used during maintenance and the initial stages of addiction treatment.
Uses of Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
Naltrexone is beneficial for the treatment of both opioid and alcohol addiction. It works by:
Reduces withdrawal symptoms
Reducing frequent cravings
Blocking euphoric effects produced by opioids
Reducing alcohol and opioid dependency
Making a recovery long-lasting when used during the maintenance phase
Opioid Treatment Using Naltrexone
2. Both Naltrexone and Narcan are Administered in Different Ways
So far, we have established that Naloxone is administered in emergency cases to reverse the dangerous effects of opioid overdose. At the same time, Naltrexone is administered during the initial and maintenance phases to help you manage withdrawal symptoms.
Now, let’s discuss the second difference.
Because the effect produced of both these drugs is different, administering these drugs is also different.
What is the route administration of Naloxone?
FDA has approved two forms of Narcan, injectable and nasal spray, as safe to use.
The injectable form can be administered as intravenous or intramuscular. It is usually carried out by medical professionals only.
Prepackaged nasal sprays are relatively easier to use. They require no additional assembly. However, it should be noted that both injectable and spray forms must be used in case of opioid overdose-related emergency only.
How to Administer Narcan to a Loved One?
The nasal spray form of Naloxone, also known as Narcan kit, can be administered by a loved one without any formal training. But it is recommended if you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, you should ask for training from your healthcare provider, so you are ready to provide help in case of any emergency.
You can follow these simple steps to save a life from opioid overdose:
Step1: Make the person lay on his back
Step2: Place the tip of the nozzle of the device on one of the nostril
Step3: Spray Naloxone in one of the nostrils
Step4: Call emergency services for immediate assistance
Who Can Carry Narcan?
Narcan is an excellent drug to quickly reverse opioid overdose symptoms. Anyone can carry Narcan. If your loved one is struggling with addiction, you should have it with you all the time to prevent any emergency.
In addition, employers should always stock this in case anyone requires it. Narcan saves lives. It should be widely and readily available as a first aid kit. After all, a person can overdose on opioids anywhere, and only a person with Narcan can save him.
Precautions and Side Effects of Naloxone
Narcan or Naloxone is an excellent drug to reverse the damage of opioid overdose. However, after administering it, you should always seek medical advice because Narcan can have these side effects:
How is Naltrexone Administered?
Please note injectable Naltrexone is administered only in the care of a certified clinician. At ChoicePoint, our clinicians prescribe the dose after assessing your condition and reduce any complications and risks to make this process safe and easy for you.
Naltrexone is also available in two forms:
Pills or tablets – Usually prescribed to treat alcohol use disorder. It is usually taken daily or as advised by the doctor.
Injectable – Extended-release injectable form is used to treat opioid dependency. It is usually administered after 2-4 weeks as advised by the doctor.
Are There Any Side Effects of Naltrexone?
There are always some side effects associated with the use of medicines. But, in the case of Naltrexone, the benefits outweigh the risks and side effects.
But some side-effects you might experience include:
Nausea and vomiting
How Naloxone Saves Lives in Opioid Overdose
3. Both Naltrexone and Narcan have Different Onset and Duration of Action.
Since Naltrexone and Naloxone have different uses, they both have different duration of action.
How Long Does it Take for Narcan to Produce an Effect?
Naloxone has a rapid action of onset. Which means it starts to produce effects within minutes. However, you should immediately contact emergency services because the effect lasts for only 30-60 minutes. Also, if a potent opioid, like Fentanyl, was used, there might be a need to administer more than one dose. So, the best thing you can do is call emergency services right away so they can help you out.
Are you or someone you know struggling from opioid abuse? Are you concerned that they are at risk of opioid overdose? ChoicePoint has online licensed doctors who can prescribe you Narcan and can help you to overcome opioid addiction.
How Long Does it Take for Naltrexone to Produce an Effect?
On the contrary to Narcan, Naltrexone (Vivitrol) has a slower onset of action because it is used for maintenance rather than for emergency uses.
Oral Naltrexone starts to produce an effect after one hour, and the effect usually lasts for a day, whereas extended-release injectable form has two peaks. It has high action after 2 hours and then again after 2-3 days. The effect usually lasts for two weeks.
Where to Get Naltrexone and Narcan Prescription?
Now that you are familiar with the differences between Naloxone vs Naltrexone and how it can help you fight opioid abuse, you might wonder where to get the same-day prescription for these drugs. Or you might be looking for a doctor who can evaluate your condition and prescribe you safe doses of these medications.
Narcan spray is an over-the-counter medication, which means that you do not require a prescription to buy it. Instead, it is usually available as a Narcan kit which is extremely convenient to use.
For Naloxone (Vivitrol), ChoicePoint has virtual and outpatient Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs through which our licensed doctors can prescribe it after careful examination of your condition. Our online prescription programs can offer immediate help.
You can also visit ChoicePoint for an in-person consultation at our outpatient addiction treatment center in North Jersey, at the Fair Lawn location in Bergen County, New Jersey. It is also now possible to get prescriptions from any location without leaving your home through our online prescription programs.
We are committed to providing you high-quality treatment wherever you are and whenever you need it! To schedule an appointment, please call us at 844.445.2563.
MAT Medications Combined With Therapy Is the Best Possible Solution
Substance abuse and mental health problems are often correlated. While MAT medications are effective on their own but when combined with therapy, it increases the chances of long-term recovery. This is because therapy equips you with stress coping skills and also addresses the underlying cause of addiction.
ChoicePoint offers these online and in-person behavioral therapy services to help you recover:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Helps to manage negative thoughts and improves overall thought process
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Helps to control extreme emotional instability.
Dual-Diagnosis: A treatment that aims to treat both mental and physical health issues associated with addiction.
Does Insurance Cover Naltrexone and Narcan Treatment?
Telehealth is being recognized now more than ever. To bring down the cost associated with high-quality treatments, ChoicePoint works with insurance companies such as Medicare, Medicaid, and other commercial insurance companies.
When comparing Naloxone vs Naltrexone, we have established three major differences:
Narcan is used to treat opioid overdose, whereas Naltrexone is used to treat both alcohol and opioid use disorder.
Narcan has a rapid onset of action and lasts 30-60 minutes, whereas Nalteroxe produces effects after 1-4 hours and lasts for a day in oral medication and 2-4 weeks for injectable form.
Naloxone (Narcan spray) can be administered with the help of anyone.
After highlighting these differences, we also want to emphasize that these drugs, along with therapy and other MAT medications, are extremely effective in ending opioid and alcohol dependence.
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol and opioid addiction, please seek immediate help. ChoicePoint treatments are covered by insurance and are extremely confidential. You can also get started free by utilizing the first free consultation.
So what are you waiting for? Schedule an appointment today by calling us at 844.445.2563 or visit our North Jersey outpatient addiction treatment center in the Fair Lawn location in Bergen County, New Jersey.
ChoicePoint aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use disorder and mental health issues. Our team of licensed medical professionals research, edit and review the content before publishing. However, this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice please consult your physicians or ChoicePoint's qualified staff.