Methadone or Naltrexone Implants – Which is Better to Treat Opioid Addiction?
How they Work
Methadone works because the it helps to block many of the effects of taking opioids or opiates and replaces that “high” with lowered opioid-like feelings. The reason methadone works like this is because it is an opioid itself and it takes over the opioid pleasure receptors so other opioids are experienced at much weaker levels.
Similar to methadone, naltrexone implants block the same pleasure receptors that opioids usually attach to. However, since naltrexone is an opioid antagonist (as opposed to an opioid analgesic, which is what people really mean when they say opioids), it doesn’t cause any of those pleasurable effects although it works to end cravings, too.
We believe naltrexone implants are superior in how they work because they actually get people used to not having an opioid in their system while methadone makes people people continue consuming an opioid while they try to quit them.
Our choice: naltrexone implant
Are they Effective?
Due to the aforementioned blocking of the pleasure receptors, most of the people who get naltrexone implants are able to quit using opioids for at least as long as the implant lasts.
Similarly, findings printed in the Journal of the National Medical Association show that methadone increases the chances of successfully detoxifying the patient. However, it also notes that the best chance for success in treating the opioid addiction is to have the patient enrolled in a substance abuse program at a rehab center at the same time as they are taking methadone.
Though there seems to be some caveats with the effectiveness of methadone, both of these medicines have proven to be more effective in helping patients quit an opioid addiction while they are still taking it.
Our choice: Tie
Chance for Relapse
During initial testing for naltrexone implants, the people who used the actual medicine had a success rate of 83 percent. Conversely, people who try to quit opiates like heroin without the help of a naltrexone implant or any other medication have an abysmal success rate of 5-10 percent with some studies putting the success rate closer to 2 percent. That being said, naltrexone implants haven’t been on the market for long, and these success rates are liable to change as more testing is done.
Methadone has a scaling success rate of helping people quit opiates. That scaling goes from 60 to 90 percent, and the higher rates are directly affected by how long the patient is in a medically assisted rehab program. Understandably, the longer the rehab, the more likely they will be to never return to opiates.
For both of these treatment options, the chances of success in ending the opiate addiction are especially good compared to other drugs. If it wasn’t for for having medications to help quit, the success rate of quitting opioids on your own is around 5 percent. However, once the methadone treatment program is over, there’s a chance that the user just moves from their original opioid or opiate addiction to being addicted to methadone. For Naltrexone implants, there is no reported addiction associated with them.
Our choice: Naltrexone implant
Those who take methadone have to take it every 24 to 72 hours. Although medicines that are taken as frequently as every day or less are convenient as far as prescriptions are concerned, any frequency is what takes away nearly all of methadone’s convenience. When first given methadone, they will only allow you to take home one dose at a time.
Over time as you show that you are responsible and committed to sobriety, they can increase how much you take home until you max out at a one month supply. However, if you follow all the rules suggested for taking methadone home (especially putting them in a container secured by lock and key), you could be adding a few minutes to opening and giving yourself the medicine. A couple minutes a day doesn’t sound like much, but that still also takes away some of the convenience of methadone.
The convenience level of naltrexone implants is one of the biggest features that the medicine offers. For as long as the implant lasts, which can be as long as a few months, patients don’t have to do anything to make sure that the naltrexone implant is working to keep them off opioids
Our choice: Naltrexone implant