The Difference Between Vivitrol And Suboxone
Overcoming heroin or other opioid addiction can be a gut-wrenching and challenging process for the strongest of individuals. Most often, these substances require a pharmacological intervention, or medications designed to reduce cravings and either partially or fully block the effects of opioid drugs. Vivitrol and suboxone are drugs used in the battle against opioid addiction and while each shows promise, these drugs also carry their own risks.
Addiction professionals must evaluate individuals, case by case, to determine which medication is best suited for their situation. Costs, risks, benefits, and the level of dedication a person has toward achieving long-term recovery will each play a role in determining the right course of treatment for an opioid-addicted individual.
Effectiveness Of Vivitrol, Suboxone
Studies support the effectiveness of both vivitrol and suboxone in the treatment of opioid addiction. Currently, a study comparing the effectiveness of vivitrol and suboxone is underway and will conclude in April of 2016. The study will examine the rates of relapse, risk/benefit of each drug, overall harm reduction, cost benefit, intensity and onset of cravings, and quality of life. Individuals included in the study may be male or female, 18 years or older, and must show a physical dependence on heroin or other opioid drugs.
While we await the results of the study, the effectiveness of vivitrol in controlling drug cravings is widely known, rendering vivitrol a relatively safe alternative to the more addictive pharmacological treatments for opioid addiction, including suboxone. Both medications have been shown to dramatically decrease relapse risk for opioid-addicted individuals.
Risk Of Abuse With Vivitrol Compared To Suboxone
Addiction is a health crisis that is not easily cured. The recovery process can take years and those first few years carry the greatest risk of relapse, especially when someone is trying to overcome a severe addiction to opioids. Unfortunately, some of the drugs prescribed to aid someone in coming off of heroin or other drugs can lead to another physical dependency. Vivitrol is one pharmacological alternative to those more addictive substances and according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it carries no addiction risk, especially when compared to suboxone, making it a good candidate for those who have experienced a high rate of relapse in the past.
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Vivitrol And Suboxone: A Cost Comparison
When talking about addiction treatment, it’s important to go beyond evaluating cost per capsule. Suboxone is technically less expensive to manufacture and is available at a lower cost to the individual, however, studies indicate overall costs are higher for suboxone when you factor in emergency room visits and other health-risk factors, abuse potential, and addiction-related crime.
Generally, costs for vivitrol are double that for suboxone, with a single injection priced between $800 and $1000. However, someone is likely to be on suboxone for a much longer duration than vivitrol, meaning overall costs are generally lower. One of the primary barriers to the effectiveness of drugs like suboxone is the long-term use of the medication. Someone using suboxone may stay on the drug for years, while vivitrol may be used for a period spanning a few months to one year.
Vivitrol requires one monthly injection, a convenience that not only makes use of the medication easier, but also reinforces a daily regimen absent of pills or injections. And it carries withdrawal side effects, a side effect of some medications that can trigger drug cravings.
Comparing Side Effects From Vivitrol And Suboxone
Vivitrol and suboxone have similar common side effects including:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Changes in appetite
- Muscle cramping
- Joint stiffness or soreness
- Cold symptoms
- Increased opioid overdose risk
However, someone taking vivitrol may be at risk of some of the more serious side effects associated with the drug. These include:
- Injection site reaction
- Liver damage
- Mood changes
- Allergic pneumonia (hypersensitivity to dust or fine airborne particulate)
What Is Sudden Opioid Withdrawal?
One risk with taking a drug like vivitrol over suboxone is a condition known as sudden opioid withdrawal. Vivitrol is an opioid antagonist, meaning the drug blocks the effects of opioid drugs. For someone who has stopped taking opioid drugs within a week or two of starting vivitrol, they may experience sudden withdrawal symptoms associated with the blocking of receptor sites. Suboxone is a partial agonist, meaning it does not completely block opioid receptor sites. For example, if someone taking suboxone too soon after detox may experience sudden opioid withdrawals, it is not as likely.
Symptoms of sudden opioid withdrawal include pronounced gastrointestinal upset, mood changes, fatigue, and hallucinations, within minutes of beginning use of the medicine.
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