Naloxone and Naltrexone –What is the difference?

February 18, 2023

What is the difference between naloxone (Narcan) and naltrexone (Vivitrol)? Both drugs interact with the opiate receptors in the brain and spinal cord, preventing opiates from getting in contact with these receptors. This process has been compared with a lock and key. The difference between the two medications is their speed of action. 

Naloxone is used in emergency situations when patients are found suffering from drug overdoses. These patients are often unconscious, not breathing or barely breathing, have pinpoint pupils, and can have blue lips or noses. After naloxone administration patients are taken to hospitals for stabilization. The effect tends to last less than an hour. 

Naltrexone is longer-acting and is given to treat opiate use disorder (OUD). Patients taking naltrexone lose their craving for opiates and are able to stop the opiate habit. When opioids are taken while on naltrexone, the person does not experience any “high” or euphoria as the opioid receptors are blocked. Naltrexone is also used to treat alcohol addiction. Alcohol can cause euphoria by activating an opioid response. By blocking opioid receptors, naltrexone treats alcohol addiction in the same way it treats opiate addiction. 

Where can I get naltrexone?

Naltrexone can be prescribed by QuickMD during a telemedicine appointment by either video or phone. The prescription will be send electronically to your pharmacy of choice.

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