The Lancet has just published a brand-new study concluding that a once-a-month injection of Vivitrol is just as effective at easing cravings and preventing opioid relapse as daily doses of Suboxone. In fact, it may even be a little bit better.
During the 24-week study, 4% fewer opioid rehab patients relapsed when given Vivitrol—an extended-release injectable formulation of naltrexone, compared to those given Suboxone—a buprenorphine/naloxone combination medication, 52% to 56%.
Vivitrol has another advantage—unlike medications containing buprenorphine, it is not addictive.
Experts Weigh in on the Direct Comparison
This is the first US research to make a head-to-head comparison between the two anti-craving medications. In October 2017, the Journal of American Medicine published a smaller Norwegian study. Both studies came to the same conclusion:
Both Vivitrol and Suboxone should be considered as viable treatment options for opioid dependency or addiction.
Dr. John Rotrosen, of New York University’s School of Medicine, who served as the American study’s lead investigator, said, “The main finding in my view is the relatively equivalent safety and effectiveness of these two medications… This gives patients the freedom to choose a treatment approach that best suits their lifestyle, goals and wishes.”
Dr. Joshua Lee, a NYU School of Medicine professor who served as the lead author of the study, also concluded, “We’ve had trials of each one, but not together. Once people were on either one, they did reasonably well over time.”
Even Dr. Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse weighed in, saying, “This study removes a barrier, the belief that (Vivitrol) was not as good a medication.” The head-to-head comparison between Vivitrol and Suboxone was funded by the NIDA.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Opioid Addiction Treatment?
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one of the most important tools used by recovery professionals to help patients during opioid rehab. The addition of another evidence-based pharmaceutical option is welcome news.
Lasting Recovery outpatient drug rehab in San Diego supports true sobriety through abstinence from addictive substances, and welcomes any treatment strategies supportive of that goal. We provide both options to the clients in our programs.