When prescription medication is combined with behavioral therapies to overcome opioid use and alcohol use disorders (OUD and AUD), the recovery approach is often referred to as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The results are typically more favorable when compared to treating OUD and AUD with only counseling or prescription medications alone, making MAT a popular recommendation by physicians.

The FDA has approved very few drugs for the treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. Yet, one that has been demonstrated to be effective and safe when combined with psychosocial support is naltrexone. According to the FDA labeling, naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that can reduce or virtually eliminate cravings. Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website, naltrexone is not an opioid, is not addictive, and does not cause withdrawal symptoms with cessation. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. Naltrexone binds and blocks opioid receptors, and reduces and suppresses opioid and alcohol cravings.

Medical practitioners that have used the implantable pellets have informed us that they last multiple months; however, we cannot recommend or promote such use. While Naltrexone has been FDA approved in pill form since 1984 for OUD and 1995 for AUD and in an injectable form for the same disorders, subcutaneously placed pellets have not yet been approved.

MAT programs may utilize naltrexone in the form of a naltrexone implant or other medications such as buprenorphine and methadone. Below is a comparison of the three commonly used MAT medications (provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a recommendation or promotion of any drug for any purpose). The basis of a physician’s decision to use a medication, which medication to use or in which form it should be delivered remains solely within the physician’s medical judgment.

Medication Treatment for Opoids Treatment for Alcohol No Potential for Abuse or Diversion Non-Addictive No Withdrawal Symptoms When Discontinued