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Opioid Dependence, Suboxone and Vivitrol

Opioid addiction is one of the most difficult challenges we face in American society. Many men and women have, for a variety of reasons, developed an addiction to opioids and other substances. Recognizing the tremendous need to care for people with these addictions, Charter Health formed an Addiction Medicine service.

We have many patients on Suboxone® which is helping them get their lives back on track. We also provide Vivitrol® injections which are a treatment for either alcohol or opioid addiction. If you are looking for detox safely and smoothly, request your appointment online or call us by phone at 978-354-4611.

What is buprenorphine and Suboxone?

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors in the brain to relieve or prevent withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine comes in either a pill form or a film that is placed under the tongue.

Suboxone is a sublingual (under-the-tongue) film contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that acts as a deterrent to people using opioids.

Suboxone is an effective way to help you transition off opioids and help stay in remission so that you can function and be your true self.

How does a Suboxone treatment plan work?

Suboxone treatment is carefully monitored by our provider team at Charter Health.   An in-depth history is taken at your first visit to understand your substance use history and other aspects of your social and medical history.  This helps us understand who you are as a unique human being and create a good treatment plan.   

Your Charter team will assess you for other conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress and work with you to get them under control.   We will ask you to consider meeting with a Recovery Coach out in the community on a regular basis.  A Recovery Coach is someone who recovered from an addiction and with firsthand knowledge of the challenges of addiction can help you overcome daily struggles and hurdles.   Other health specialists, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and case managers, are available to be part of your recovery team.         

This process must be individualized to each patient’s needs. Your Charter Health provider will work with you to customize a treatment plan that is right for you.

What is naltrexone and Vivitrol?

Naltrexone is a medication that acts on the brain to reduce cravings for opioids as well as alcohol. It comes in both oral tablet form and long-acting injectable form. Naltrexone is not an opioid but it does bind to opioid receptors to suppress cravings for heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and other opioids. There is no abuse potential with naltrexone.  

Vivitrol is the long-acting injectable form of naltrexone. Vivitrol is injected monthly or every 28 days.  For some patients with opioid use disorder, Vivitrol may be a better option than Suboxone, but the choice needs to be made between the patient and your Charter Health provider.

A patient must be off opioids for at least 7-14 days before starting naltrexone.  Otherwise, painful withdrawal syndrome can occur. For this reason, we often start with oral naltrexone for a few days prior to injecting long-acting Vivitrol. 

Naltrexone for Alcoholism

Naltrexone, both oral and injected (Vivitrol), is also very effective in helping those with alcoholism abstain from drinking.  The mechanism for how naltrexone reduces cravings for alcohol is unclear.     

If drug or alcohol dependency is making your life unhappy, please reach out for help at Charter Health PC.  Call the office today at 978-354-4611.

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55 Highland Hall, Suite 304, Salem, MA

978-354-4611

978-354-4651