The three most-common medications used to treat opioid addiction are:
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
Naltrexone, known by its brand-name Vivitrol, is administered by a doctor monthly through an injection. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. Antagonists attach themselves to opioid receptors in the brain and prevent other opioids such as heroin or painkillers from exerting the effects of the drug. It has no abuse potential.
Buprenorphine, known by its brand-name Suboxone, is an oral tablet or film dissolved under the tongue or in the mouth prescribed by a doctor in an office-based setting. It is taken daily and can be dispensed at a physician’s office or taken at home. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist. Partial agonists attach to the opioid receptors in the brain and activate them, but not to the full degree as agonists. If used against the doctor’s instructions, it has the potential to be abused.
Methadone is dispensed through a certified opioid treatment program (OTP). It’s a liquid
and taken orally and usually witnessed at an OTP clinic until the patient receives take-home doses. Methadone is an opioid agonist. Agonists are drugs that activate opioid receptors in the brain, producing an effect. If used against the doctor’s instructions, it has the potential to be abused.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to medication-assisted treatment, or even recovery. Recovery is individual. The most important thing to do is to consider all of your options, and speak to a medical professional to determine the best course of action for your family. The best path is the path that helps and works for your child.