May 8, 2024 – Starting people with opioid use disorder on  injectable, extended-release naltrexone (XR-naltrexone) within five to seven days of seeking treatment is more effective than the standard treatment method of starting within 10-15 days but requires closer medical supervision. 

“Time has been an important barrier that we’ve seen hinder the use of extended-release naltrexone for opioid use disorder in the past, both among individuals and treatment providers,” said lead study author Matisyahu Shulman, MD, a clinician-scientist at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “We hope that these findings can help encourage more treatment settings to offer extended-release naltrexone as a safe and effective option for patients to help prevent overdose and support recovery.”

In 2022, more than 107,000 people died of a drug overdose, with 75% of those deaths involving an opioid. The overall rise in overdose deaths is largely attributable to the proliferation in the drug supply of illicit fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid. Decades of research have shown the overwhelming benefit of three existing medications for opioid use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine, and XR-naltrexone.