Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are Their Uses

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Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are Their Uses? They’re two must-have medicines in the fight against today’s opiate epidemic but what’s the difference? Learn all about them here:

Naltrexone vs Narcan

The scourge of opiate addiction and therefore the heartbreaking number of overdose deaths is indeed an epidemic.

It did start slowly in 1999 and gained momentum, sweeping countries and now affecting all demographics. consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opiate overdose deaths, including heroin and prescription opiates, quadrupled since 1999, with 115 American deaths every day from an opiate overdose.

Millions using prescribed opiates to alleviate chronic pain become hooked into the drug and switch to heroin as a substitute once they do not have access to prescription opiate painkillers. Consistent with research, nearly 80 percent of these using heroin (including those in treatment), report first misusing prescription opiate drugs. Since 1999, prescription opiate deaths from oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl have increased quite five times.

Fortunately, two medications, naltrexone and naloxone (Narcan), can help address the opioid epidemic and stop needless deaths from overdoses. Here’s what they’re and the way they’re utilized in opiate overdoses and treatment.

If you or a loved one is affected by opiate addiction, please review our treatment program and find out how long it takes to withdraw from opiates.

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and what are Their Uses


Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the prescription of naltrexone to treat both opiate use disorders and alcohol use disorders. Naltrexone is employed during medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for people who have undergone detoxification (detox) and are freed from opiates for a minimum of 7-10 days. It must not be employed by those currently using opiates, as doing so could cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is out there in pill form (brand names, ReVia and Depade) or injectable form (brand name Vivitrol).

How Naltrexone Works

Naltrexone belongs to a category of medicine referred to as opiate antagonists. It works by interfering with or blocking the 2 major effects users of medicine like heroin, morphine, and codeine seek sedation and euphoria. instead of activating the body’s opioid receptors to suppress cravings just like the prescription medications methadone and buprenorphine do, naltrexone works to bind and block opioid receptors to scale back cravings. A plus is that naltrexone has no abuse or diversion potential.

Used as a part of a Comprehensive Treatment Plan

During treatment of opiate use disorders, naltrexone is included within the overall treatment plan and is combined with counseling, various treatment modalities, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and participation in social support programs and self-help groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Careful monitoring by the treatment team ensures that any medication changes necessary, also as modifications to other aspects of the treatment plan, are implemented quickly. for instance, that prescribed oral naltrexone could also be transitioned to injectable naltrexone if the treatment team concludes that the injectable sort of naltrexone would be more beneficial to continued abstinence. Because treatment with naltrexone reduces tolerance to opiates, clients who relapse may overdose by going back to an equivalent or maybe lower doses of the drugs they previously took.

For this reason, and therefore the incontrovertible fact that relapse risk is greatest for the primary 6-12 months following treatment, a solid relapse prevention plan is going to be an integral part of the general treatment plan for opiate use disorder.


Naloxone is an ingredient most ordinarily known for its use in Narcan and Evzio, which is employed for the emergency treatment of an individual overdosing (or suspected of overdosing) on opiates like heroin, prescription painkillers like fentanyl, morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and Vicodin, also as buprenorphine.

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses

When administered to someone experiencing an acute opiate overdose, Narcan can save their life. Narcan is out there as an injectable solution, and a prefilled, needle-free nasal spray.

Injections are often administered into a vein (intravenously), slightly below the skin (subcutaneously), or intramuscularly (into a muscle). Evzio markets a prefilled auto-injection device for quicker delivery of naloxone.

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are Their Uses

What is Narcan Used for and the way it Works

Naloxone (Narcan®) is an FDA-approved drug in three formulations that reverses the consequences of an overdose from heroin and certain sorts of painkiller medications. This life-saving drug has been employed by paramedics and ER physicians for years with success. The medication works by blocking the consequences of medicine made up of opium.

The precise process is that Narcan® binds to mu-receptors within the brain, thereby reversing opioid activity within the body. Opiates use the brain’s mu-receptors to supply their effect on the brain. Since opiates slow breathing, emergency counter-action is required to revive it before serious brain damage or death occurs. Once naloxone has been administered to the person experiencing an overdose, regular breathing resumes, generally within minutes.

Symptoms of Opiate Overdose

Being able to acknowledge an opiate overdose (or suspected overdose) may make the difference between a life saved and a life lost. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Pale face, additionally to or face that feels clammy to the touch
  • Bluish or purplish lips or fingernails
  • An inability to wake when yelled at during a loud voice or when the chest is pressed or rubbed
  • Shallow or interrupted breathing
  • Small pupils
  • Vomiting or gurgling
  • Lameness

How to give Narcan

When someone takes an overdose, minutes count. Prompt action is important to save many lives, including the practice of CPR (CPR). Anyone attempting to resuscitate an overdosed person must have the skills to try to do so effectively.

A pharmacist or physician can train relatives, patients, and healthcare professionals on how to administer Narcan safely. in addition, the Harm Reduction Coalition lists detailed instructions on the safe administration of Narcan® in the form of a nasal spray or an injectable form to someone who has overdosed. Call emergency health services immediately after Narcan is given and stay with the person until help arrives. If symptoms return before help arrives, another dose of Narcan is often given every 23 minutes.

The drug abuse and psychological state Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an opioid overdose prevention toolkit available online. this will be a valuable resource to first responders, patients, relations, and prescribing physicians.

Don’t let an addicted beloved, loved one or friend become an opiate overdose statistic. Education, training, and a willingness to spring into action can mean all the difference. once you know what to try to do and the way to assist someone battling opioid addiction, you’re empowered, confident, and maybe the best equipped one to encourage professional addiction treatment once the crisis is past.

Used as an alternate to Suboxone and Methadone

Two other common treatment medications for opioid addiction to substances like heroin, fentanyl, and other opiates are Suboxone and methadone. Both methadone, a once per day medication, and Suboxone activate an equivalent neurological receptor as heroin but prevent withdrawal and relapse. Controversy surrounds methadone, particularly for its use in treating opiate addicts within the criminal justice system, as critics say it’s substituting one addictive drug for an additional. Methadone is often sold and has been linked with abuse. Some patients enter drug rehab for methadone abuse.

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses

The injectable sort of naltrexone, on the opposite hand, which the FDA approved in 2010, may be a once-monthly injection and is now utilized in some drug rehab treatment facilities as an alternative to Suboxone and methadone in treating opiate addiction.

A University of Pennsylvania School of drugs study in 2016 found that naltrexone may be a viable treatment for heroin addicts, especially those within the criminal justice system considered at high risk of relapse. Results showed no overdoses and lower relapse rate than patients with usual treatment and researchers involved long-term studies of the effectiveness of treatment with extended-release naltrexone.

A separate NIDA clinical test conducted between 2014 and 2016 compared treatment effectiveness of extended-release injectable naltrexone (XRNTX) with Suboxone (sublingual buprenorphine and naloxone) and located that both were safe and effective overall, although it had been harder to initiate patients into the injectable extended-release naltrexone.

24week relapse events were similar across groups within the study, while opiate craving was initially less in XRNTX and converged with Suboxone by week 24, and mildtomoderate injection site reactions occurred with XRNTX. There have been five overdoses with XRNTX and three with Suboxone during the clinical test. The study results involved future work on facilitating induction into XRNTX and improving treatment retention outcomes for both medications.

Naltrexone Pros and Cons

Hailed as an opioid dependence treatment medication that will replace other older or currently used medications, naltrexone has its pros and cons, even as most other medications do.

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses

Naltrexone Pros

Among the notable benefits of using naltrexone:

  • It may help prevent drug use and relapse.
  • The medication may be a nonaddictive opiate antagonist.
  • Administered as a onceamonth injection, naltrexone is convenient and easier to recollect to require.
  • Naltrexone may have less severe effects than other sorts of medications utilized in the treatment of opioid dependence.
  • Blood levels may stay more stable than with other oral sorts of naltrexone.

Naltrexone Cons

Some of the cons for naltrexone use include:

  • The patient must be clean from opiates and alcohol for 710 days before starting naltrexone.
    Cravings could also be intense during the primary week before starting naltrexone, and treatment providers should provide the patient with appropriate coping approaches.
    Patients transitioning from buprenorphine or methadone to naltrexone could also be susceptible to precipitation of withdrawal symptoms for up to 2 weeks.
    Naltrexone might not be appropriate or safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • After cleansing and remedy with naltrexone, sufferers have much less tolerance to opiates as naltrexone blocks the opiate’s consequences for 28 days. Opiate intoxication might also additionally arise if the affected person hotels to previously-used doses of opiates.
  • Fatal overdose is possible way to taking greater of the drug to experience its consequences and might motive excessive breathing despair main to death.
  • Severe liver harm might also additionally end result if naltrexone is taken in large than encouraged doses.
  • Injection webweb page reactions might also additionally variety from moderate to extreme pain, swelling, redness, nodules, and infection.


With the capacity to shop masses of a person’s existence from opiate overdose, reversing the effects of opioids, Naloxone is legitimately taken into consideration a “miracle” drug. Still, naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan) capabilities a listing of execs and cons to staying in mind. Naloxone (Narcan) Pros

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses
  • In the case of opiate overdose, mins count. Prompt management of Narcan can shop a existence.
  • Now the existence-saving medicinal drug is offered in extra states to first responders and enforcement officials.
  • Injectable naloxone is handy and organized to apply in an emergency.
  • Family participants and non-emergency employees now have get entry to to prescription Narcan to provide emergency remedy to cherished ones having or suspected of having an opioid overdose.

State legal guidelines governing naloxone shelling out vary, but fifty-one percent of states have naloxone get entry to legal guidelines at the books, and 50 percent of states permit pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a personal prescription.

  • Easier get entry to to naloxone method opiate users, members of the family and pals can attain existence-saving medicinal drug thru pharmacies like Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, et al. Naloxone (Narcan) Cons
  • Acute opiate withdrawal is regularly brought about in opiate-established sufferers and those with drug abuse issues.
  • Narcan ought to be used with warning in sufferers with hepatic ailment, as naloxone is metabolized in the liver.
  • Elderly sufferers are much more likely to own age-associated heart, kidney, or liver issues which could require warning in administering Narcan.
  • Interaction with different pills, each prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pills, vitamins, and natural merchandise might also additionally arise.
  • Individuals with paraben sensitivity should not generally tend Narcan, due to the fact the answer includes methylparaben and Propylparaben.
  • Death can arise if EMS has now no longer been summoned and arrives in time after the number one dose for the reason that length of opiates probably exceeds that of naloxone. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (artificial fentanyl), for instance, are so effective that repeated management of Narcan may also be required to restore breathing in the occasion the affected person has stopped respiratory or respiratory has slowed.

Lack of right schooling at the manner to nevertheless administer naloxone might also additionally result in deaths of those overdosing from opiates. Vivitrol Why is Vivitrol the popular remedy technique for some people in recovery? Vivitrol has been wont to deal with dependence on opiate pills and alcohol.

The drug most effective impacts the manner the frame responds to the narcotic pills or alcohol, assisting save you relapse through turning off receptivity in the mind to the satisfying consequences of the substances. The medicinal drug ought to most effectively be administered through a healthcare issuer as an intramuscular gluteal injection. regular with the drug manufacturer, Alkermes, Inc., Vivitrol need to now no longer be injected subcutaneously or intravenously.

Side Effects of naroxone

consequences and destructive reactions to medications, which include the ones used in the course of MAT remedy for opiate dependence ought to be defined to the affected person. Side consequences of Naltrexone (Vivitrol) encompass:

Naltrexone vs Narcan: What are They, and What are  Their Uses
  • Allergic reaction
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased drive
  • Depressed mood
  • Dizziness
  • Headache y
  • Increased thirst
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Liver harm
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Pneumonia
  • Restlessness
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting Serious facet consequences encompass blurred vision, speedy heartbeat, trouble respiratory, hallucinations, confusion, mind of suicide, darkish urine, clay-coloured stools, and jaundice.

Adverse reactions of Naltrexone (Vivitrol), going on in however percentage of opiate-established sufferers encompass:

  • Hepatic enzyme abnormalities
  • Injection webweb page pain
  • Insomnia
  • Nasopharyngitis
  • Toothache Side consequences of naloxone (Narcan) encompass: Body aches
  • Convulsions
  • Cramps in the stomach or stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty respiratory, shallow respiratory
  • Fever
  • Goosebumps
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Pale (or blue) lips, skin, and fingernails
  • Rapid or abnormal heartbeat or pulse
  • Runny nose, sneezing
  • Shivering
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Yawning Narcan destructive reactions encompass:
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dental pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drug interactions
  • Hallucinations
  • Hot flashes
  • Hypoxia
  • Potential destructive cardiac consequences, like hypotension, ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, and pulmonary edema in sufferers with cardiac ailment or receiving cardiac pills
  • Respiratory despair
  • Risks to the fetus of an opioid-established mother, neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Tremor
  • Withdrawal

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