Naloxone and Naltrexone are the two most common opioid antagonists and are both used to treat dependence on alcohol and narcotics. Both medications prevent opioids from reaching the brain at a cellular level. The difference exists in the way they block opioids.
Naltrexone is the representative drug which is the antagonist opioid. It has the greatest ability to affect nervous receptors which means it’s most effective for blocking the effects of alcohol and drugs. While Naltrexone (Revia or Depade) is a long-term opioid blocker, it takes 1-2 hours for it’s effects to kick in. Naloxone acts quickly, which makes it highly effective in an emergency overdose situation.
Nalaxone vs. Naltrexone – Their Uses
Naloxone (Narcan) is primarily used as a short-term opioid blocker. While similar to Naltrexone, it’s a more short term treatment and is the antidote used for opioid overdose. It isn’t used for long term treatment, instead it’s an emergency shot that saves lives quickly. When someone is overdosing, the opioids can be blocked with Naloxone which rapidly takes the effect of the drug away. Naloxone for Fentanyl overdose is now offered as a take-home kit due to an increase of deaths.
Naloxone for overdoses knocks the opioids out of the opioid receptors in the brain. It can also be helpful when opioids are taken with alcohol or other drugs. Once the drug has been administered, you will breathe normally again and become coherent shortly after. The faster Naloxone can be administered, the better. Even a few minutes can prevent brain damage by bringing oxygen back to the brain. Naloxone saves lives by giving you extra time to get the help you need before emergency medical assistance arrives. Its effects occur within five minutes of the injection being administered and if it doesn’t work immediately, you can receive a secondary dose as it’s not possible to overdose on Narcan.
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Naltrexone has been used as an drug and alcohol blocking agent for the past 30 years. Vivatrol and NTX are an extended release injectable version of Naltrexone. This helps patients with their recovery because the Naltrexone is slowly released into the body. Naltrexone is used for post-recovery once detox has occurred. Its job is to prevent the dependency on opioids over the course of recovery and have been highly effective in preventing drug and alcohol relapse.
Naloxone Saves Lives
Naloxone is saving lives by almost immediately blocking or reversing effects of an overdose. This can be anything extreme drowsiness to not breathing. If you’re unconscious, you will regain consciousness quickly. It reverses effects of heroin overdose and ER doctors as well as paramedics have been using if for years to save lives. As there has been such a major increase in overdoses with drugs like morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine and heroin, there are take-away kits. This is largely due to how quickly fatal an overdose can be. When oxygen stops going to the brain for even a few minutes, the effects of brain damage or irreversible.
Naltrexone Helps Recovery of Drug and Alcohol Dependence
Naltrexone is an aid to help prevent drug and alcohol dependence. It is usually given to someone who has recently gotten out of rehab and an after treatment. As it blocks the effects of both alcohol and opioid drugs, you won’t get the high you’re used to. This has shown to be highly effective in deterring addicts from going back to their substance of choice. As addicts are often hooked on the feeling, this lessens their desire.
As one of the main medications for treating opioid addiction, it not only blocks the harmful effects but reduces cravings caused by certain drugs and alcohol. It is not something that stands alone as an overall cure. It should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive recovery program. This usually includes Inpatient or Outpatient Recovery Treatment along with holistic treatments, counseling and support groups.
Naloxone vs. Naltrexone – Application Rules
Suboxone and Methadone is a method of addiction recovery that can cause addiction to the prescriptions themselves. During the process of recovering from an addiction to drug or alcohol abuse, there is a medication-free treatment.
Vivitrol is an injectable form of Naltrexone that lasts for 30 day so you don’t have worry about remembering to take a Naltrexone pill daily. The needle is injected into the buttocks and releases the right percentage of Naltrexone into your system daily to prevent the desire to use drugs or alcohol. You’re only able to start using Naltrexone for addiction recovery if you’ve had 10-14 day of opioid abstinence. Vivatrol also prevents the full effects of alcohol from hitting the mind. It’s considered a safety net for patients who are recovering from alcohol abuse. If you start to drink, the effects won’t be as strong.
When you opt to use the pill form of Naltexone, you will be given the first dose which is usually 25 mg with 50mg per day thereafter.
The brand of Naloxone called Narcan is an intramuscular injection which can be administered into the muscle of the arm, thigh, or buttocks. There is also a nasal spray device that can be shot up the nose but this use is less common.
Lasting Effects of Naloxone vs Naltrexone
Narcan wears off in about 30 minutes and is almost completely gone after 90 minutes. This allows the body to process enough opioids that the overdose symptoms have subsided. There are cases where long-acting opioids like methadone may prompt you to need another dose of Narcan.
Based on clinical studies, 50 mg of Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids for up to 24 hours. If the dosage were to be doubled, the blocking effects would last for up to 48 hours.
Side Effects of Naloxone vs Naltrexone
Noloxone (Narcan) has some common side effects but they are non-threatening. If you aren’t overdosing but are using opioids, you will be put into immediate withdrawal. This is the dangerous side effect for those who are addicted to opioids. While not life threatening, it’s extremely uncomfortable to instantly start withdrawing, especially if you’re highly addicted.
The side of effects of Naltrexone differ from Naloxone as they are used long term. Most of the side effects are minor and usually subside once the body grows accustomed to it. Naltrexone can be harmful to your liver if you are already experiencing problems with it. Blood tests will be administered by your health professional to ensure your liver is functioning properly. These blood tests will occur periodically to make sure the state of your liver doesn’t alter while using Naltrexone.
Prescription for Naloxone vs. Naltrexone
Many of the states sell opioid overdose antidote Naloxone without a prescription. Programs and physicians offer Naloxone when necessary and there is access in pharmacies without a prescription. As Naloxone is safe and effective, coupled with the fact it saves lives, parties involved have deemed it as necessary to be accessible to the public.
The process of getting Naltrexone is more complex than Naloxone. This has a lot to do with the fact that you shouldn’t use it in certain circumstances. You do need a prescription which you likely won’t get until you have a urine test to prove that opioids are not currently in your system. You may have taken cough medicine or painkillers that unknowingly contained opiates. If you have liver problems, using Naltrexone for recovery may affect the way your kidneys work. Your treatment with Naltrexone will begin and supervised by a specialist. This may include an outpatient program or a recovery program after the initial detox.
Naloxone vs. Naltrexone – Insurance Coverage
Insurance plans like Medicaid and Medicare reimburse Naloxone in some states. Washington is one of the states that has made overdose prevention a priority, making the process to obtain Naloxone easy. There are a variety of way non-medical agencies or staff can get Naloxone. Consulting with a medical provider or a county health officer will help you gain access to Naloxone if you feel it might be necessary.
There are specific pharmacies that offer the take-home Naloxone program and you’re not required to have a prescription. The program is called the CDTA (collaborative drug therapy agreement). The pharmacy will bill your insurance agency or seek payment which can usually reimbursed depending on your insurance. Drug rehabs and other professional agencies can pick up a form of Naloxone free of charge. It’s best to check with your insurer to see what coverage or co-pay opportunities are available. There are some areas where funds have been designated to fund community Naloxone distribution, which includes syringe exchange programs.
Naltrexone has various forms which range in cost. Your private insurance may or may not cover your Naltrexone prescription. The need for a prescription is often determined by the drug treatment clinic you’re getting treatment from. Your drug rehab clinic can give you full details about coverage based on the insurance company you use. That being said, in general, if you have a prescription plan, it will cover the Vivatrol shot which is dependent on “prior authorization.”
Nalaxone vs. Naltrexone – Costs
Naloxone in a standard overdose response kit comes with 2 doses and vary in price from $50 to a few hundred dollars per dose. Pharmacies may also charge a small fee for the brief training that is included if you haven’t received training before. Medicaid covers all costs of Naloxone and they can be directly billed so there is no cost involved. The actual price for Naloxone has skyrocketed due to it’s current public demand. For example, there was a 680% increase from 2014 to now. Auvi-Q costs $4,500 for a two-pack of Naloxone. They have made it possible for those who don’t have insurance to purchase it at $360 while 200 million people will be able to get the device with a $0 copay.
Insurance companies are now beginning to realize that the cost of treating illness related to long term alcohol and drug dependence is high. This is why your insurance company is more prone to helping you rehabilitate and stay clean. The fact that Naltrexone has proven to be so effective, it has become an essential part of success after drug rehab treatment. This often means that some, if not all, the cost is covered. There are generic brands that cost as little as $11.00 if you have an insurance copay plan.
- The brand name Revia comes in an oral tablet of 50 mg and cost around $120 for 30 days worth of medication.
- Vivatrol is good for one month and is a slow releasing Naltrexone injection. Without insurance, you’ll pay between $1200 – $1600.
- Nalcon, Naltrex and Naltima cost about $1.00 per tablet and contain the recommended 50 mg dose.
Patient Reviews about Naloxone and Naltrexone
“After receiving the medicine by the medic the only side effect, I experience was a very warm sensation over my body that lasted about 1 1/2 hours that was it. I thank goodness for this medicine it truly saved my life.”
“Long story short, I was up for 2 days abusing narcotics. On day 3 I think my body had enough. I was on a car ride when I crashed, me not the car, my brother was driving who noticed I didn’t look well… I was blue. Took me to the ER Apparently they told him I would wake up screaming. I did after the injection. It felt like cold water was being pumped into my veins and muscles. I also had heavy muscle spasms. If they held me down, no idea. Everything was going on in slow motion as I came to. They injected me with something to calm the spasms. Then I was in and out until waking up in the ICU. Nonetheless it’s a life saver. It’s a painful one but hey, I’m alive.”
Vivitrol (naltrexone): “I’m getting my 18th shot this month that means I have successfully completed the vivitrol program at a local adult facility. This shot did something not sure what but I don’t have urges or wants to use drugs I was an I user and ruined my life almost but now I’m successful and nobody would ever guess how bad I use to be. And I don’t ever have to be a junkie again. Thank god…. no side affects so I hope I can keep it up after this month and I hope my brain is okay with me stopping the shot.”
Revia (naltrexone): “Battled a 6 year prescription opiate addiction, with a good 5 years in and out of withdrawals trying to get clean, never working and landing myself in hospital twice, once for a week and lucky to be alive. Tried a suboxone program but wanted to be properly free from the opiate bindings and feel again. Since being on Naltrexone I have not thought, cared, desired any opiate. Totally free from my mind and able to get on with my life, feeling, and feeling great. As an added bonus my in and out battle with alcohol has gone the exact same way, also dropping other destructive impulsive behaviour. Just dont care about it. First week I had brutal lethargy but after dealing with years of withdrawals it was cake, no side effects since then. Life saver”
When you compare Naloxone against Naltrexone and how they manage substance abuse, they vary differently. Naloxone works in minutes to save lives when you’ve overdosed. It’s effects last no more than 90 minutes. Naltrexone is used as a part of your recovery from alcohol or opioids for a longer duration. While they both block the effects of opioids from hitting your brain, their treatment is complete different.