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Vivitrol vs Suboxone: An In-depth Look

July 16, 2019

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) used simultaneously with integrated behavioral therapies is considered the gold standard in addiction treatment today. Medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol are used to help ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. While both medications work well in the treatment of opioid use disorders, it is critical to understand the difference in these medications to determine which one is right for you. 


Suboxone is a drug containing both buprenorphine and naloxone. It has proven effective in treating opioid dependence and addiction. Suboxone is manufactured as a sublingual film that is placed under the tongue or between the gums and cheeks, allowing it to dissolve in the mouth. There are four different doses of Suboxone available, making it easy for physicians to help individuals taper off of it when they are ready. 


Naloxone is a pure opioid antagonist, meaning that it stops opioid receptors from feeling the euphoric effects that are produced when a person takes an opioid. In addition, naloxone is also used to reverse opioid overdoses. If a person takes an opioid while on naloxone, they will be unable to achieve a high.[1] Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that releases small amounts of opioid doses to the brain. This gradual release of buprenorphine allows individuals to slowly taper off of harder opioids and help mitigate the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that come from opioid addiction.[2]


Naloxone and buprenorphine work together to help reduce opioid abuse and treat opioid use disorders. Suboxone can help alleviate many of the opioid withdrawal symptoms an individual may be experiencing, reduce cravings for opioids, and increase the likelihood of a person suffering from opioid addiction to remain in treatment. Suboxone is a cost-effective way to help individuals on their journey to sobriety while used hand in hand with comprehensive addiction treatment. However, since buprenorphine is an opioid, users may experience mild withdrawal symptoms when they quit taking Suboxone. 


Vivitrol is a monthly injection that is administered by a physician to help individuals with alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders. Vivitrol contains naltrexone as its active ingredient. Naltrexone is similar to naloxone because it is an opiate antagonist that can be used to stop an individual from achieving a state of intoxication when they use opioids or drink alcohol. Knowing that one cannot achieve a high has the ability to help deter people in recovery from relapse. 


Additionally, Naltrexone works by decreasing the desire to drink or drug, allowing individuals to effectively manage their cravings while they are actively engaging in addiction therapy. 


“Vivitrol is a non-addictive non-narcotic medication, so there’s no possibility of it being abused nor becoming addicted to/dependent on it. Vivitrol is considered more effective because it only requires one shot per month, unlike other naltrexone that is taken orally once per day or every three days which requires the addict to religiously use medication.”


As an extended-release injection, there is no daily upkeep. With suboxone, on the other hand, it must be taken daily to remain effective. Vivitrol can also be beneficial as there are usually no withdrawal symptoms associated with it if an individual decides to stop getting the shot. However, Vivitrol cannot be administered until 7-14 days after a person has taken their last dose of opioids to prevent going back into withdrawal.[3] It is also viewed as a more costly medication than Suboxone. 

Determining if MAT is Right for You

Addiction treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. In fact, each individual has specific needs that should be met. This is why it is so important to be open and honest with clinical staff and physicians so an addiction professional can help you determine whether or not MAT is right for you. 


At Truth Recovery Center, we understand that overcoming addiction can be a difficult journey. Two of the most challenging parts of starting this journey include the withdrawal process and the cravings that are common among people in early recovery. Using addiction treatment medications like Suboxone or Vivitrol are integral aspects in treating the physical symptoms of addiction, allowing individuals to focus solely on their treatment, therapy, and peer support groups. While MAT is not considered a substitute for traditional treatment methods, it is extremely beneficial in helping individuals stay sober and manage their cravings. 


“If you or someone you know is addicted to opiates or any other drug, there are venues through which you can receive legitimate help. Recovery is possible through experienced addiction professionals with a wealth of knowledge on their side. Truth Recovery Center will help you or a loved one get off opiates, or any other drug, and allow you to lead the life that is waiting for you outside of opioids.”


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/naloxone
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine
  3. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-144395/vivitrol-intramuscular/details