Suboxone and Vivitrol are both medications that can be prescribed to treat opioid use disorder, also known as opioid addiction.
While they are both prescribed for this use, they are not the same. Some people may prefer one over the other for a variety of reasons.
If you’re taking Suboxone and wish to switch, you’ll need to go through a process of tapering off Suboxone and wait at least two weeks after your last dose before starting Vivitrol.
How Long It Takes To Switch From Suboxone To Vivitrol
On average, it will take at least a few weeks to switch from Suboxone to Vivitrol. This will depend on how high a dose of Suboxone you’re taking and other personal factors.
Can You Take Vivitrol With Suboxone Still In Your System?
People who are taking Suboxone cannot begin Vivitrol treatment immediately. Taking Vivitrol with Suboxone still in your system could cause severe, opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Precipitated withdrawal from Vivitrol is an acute form of withdrawal that can be triggered by Vivitrol’s blockade effects on opioid receptors in the brain.
What this could cause:
- rapid heartbeat
- severe diarrhea
- excessive vomiting
- fully-body pain
- altered sense of reality
Because symptoms can be severe, Vivitrol should only be taken after you have fully detoxed from all opioid drugs, including Suboxone.
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How To Switch From Suboxone To Vivitrol
Switching medications is a decision you may make with your prescribing doctor or addiction treatment team.
The process of switching to Vivitrol will involve:
- gradually tapering off use of Suboxone
- waiting at least two weeks after your last dose before starting Vivitrol
- clinical management of Suboxone withdrawal symptoms
The entire process of making this switch may take a number of weeks, depending on how long it takes for you to taper off Suboxone.
During this time, a detox program may be recommended. This can help prevent withdrawal-related complications from getting off Suboxone, including relapse to opioid use.
Challenges Of Switching From Suboxone To Vivitrol
Switching from Suboxone to Vivitrol for opioid addiction treatment is not an easy process. Without adequate support, it could be dangerous.
Stopping Suboxone may cause cravings for opioid drugs to return. With a reduced tolerance for opioids, this could put a person at risk for opioid overdose if they relapse to opioid use.
All in all, the waiting period of switching to Vivitrol can be highly uncomfortable. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be difficult for a person to handle without clinical support.
Timeline For Switching From Suboxone To Vivitrol: What Factors Can Affect It?
The timeline for how long it takes to switch from one medication for opioid use disorder to another can vary, depending on factors related to one’s health and substance use history.
Your timeline for switching to Vivitrol may depend on:
- your maintenance dose of Suboxone
- how long you’ve been taking Suboxone
- risk of relapse while tapering off Suboxone
- level of support for managing withdrawal
- setting in which you are tapering off Suboxone
Safety is a key consideration for how long, and in what way, a person is recommended to make the transition to a Vivitrol medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plan.
Stopping Vivitrol without having clinical support, or a strong social support system, can be risky, due to a potential for relapse during this transition.
People who are considered at high risk for relapse during this transition may receive a recommendation from their doctor to enter a detox center or treatment facility for extra support.
What’s The Difference Between Suboxone And Vivitrol?
Suboxone is an opioid-based medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone. Vivitrol is a non-opioid medication that contains naltrexone as its primary ingredient.
Primary differences between them include:
- Formulation: Suboxone comes in the form of a film strip. Vivitrol is an intramuscular injection that can only be administered by a health professional.
- Abuse potential: Suboxone has a low abuse potential, while Vivitrol has no potential for abuse.
- Addictive potential: Suboxone can be physically and psychologically addictive, while Vivitrol has no known addictive potential.
- Accessibility: Special training is required for eligible healthcare providers to prescribe Suboxone. No special training is required to prescribe Vivitrol.
- Frequency of use: Suboxone is generally taken once daily, while Vivitrol is a medication that’s administered once a month.
- Insurance coverage: Not all health insurance providers cover Suboxone and Vivitrol the same. You’ll need to check your insurance policy to confirm this.
Can You Switch Back To Suboxone After Taking Vivitrol?
Before making any sort of medication switch, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons. But yes, switching back to Suboxone is possible.
Because Vivitrol can block the effects of buprenorphine, an ingredient in Suboxone, starting back on Suboxone may require a waiting period until your last Vivitrol dose has worn off.
You’ll likely need to be started on a lower dose than before. Because Vivitrol doesn’t cause physical dependence, you will not need to wean off it first.
Find Help Switching From Suboxone To Vivitrol
Understanding your different treatment options can help support you on your journey of building your best life in addiction recovery.
If you’re looking to learn more about available treatment options for yourself or a loved one, one of our specialists may be able to help.
Call our helpline today to learn more about Vivitrol treatment options and how to find a treatment provider that offers Vivitrol treatment for opioid dependence near you.
Published on July 30, 2021
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) — The ASAM National Practice Guidelines for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions
- Vivitrol — Important Safety Information: VIVITROL (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension)
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Research Report