Lucemyra for Opioid Withdrawal: The Complete Guide

As you begin your recovery journey, you’ll come across a dizzying amount of information on various treatment modalities and medications. It can be confusing, for sure.

We can help. 

Let’s look at the medication Lucemyra for opiate withdrawal—what it is, how it works, and when this medication is a good fit.

What is Lucemyera?

The federal government declared the opioid crisis in this nation a public health emergency in 2017. A year later, the FDA approved Lucemyra (generic name lofexidine hydrochloride) to reduce withdrawal symptoms in those who have abruptly stopped using opioids. 

How does Lucemyra work?

When people take opioids for an extended period of time, their brains lower production of the hormone norepinephrine. If you stop opioid use suddenly, your body becomes “angry” that you’re disrupting its chemical balance—remember, it’s used to operating on opioids—and you start to develop withdrawal symptoms (see sidebar). Lucemyra works by helping to restore your body’s natural levels of norepinephrine.

Who is Lucemyera for?

Lucemyra is for those who have abruptly stopped using opioids and do not plan to go on to medication-assisted treatment

Is Lucemyra a controlled substance?

No, it is not. Lucemyra is classified as an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist. It is not a controlled medication or addictive.

Are there side effects with Lucemyra?

The Mayo Clinic reports a long list of possible side effects, but keep in mind—the serious ones are relatively rare, and the more common ones aren’t debilitating. 

More common

  • Chest discomfort
  • Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)  
  • Chills/sweats
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness, especially when standing up suddenly
  • Tiredness

Less common

  • Ringing, buzzing, or other noise in the ears
  • Hearing loss

Discuss the possible side effects with your doctor before starting this medication.

Who should not take Lucemyra ?

People with any of the following should not take Lucemyra:

  • Cardiac arrest in the last 30 days
  • An abnormal EKG 
  • Severe disorder of the blood vessels of the brain
  • Reduced kidney function
  • Bradycardia 

How much does Lucemyra cost?

In October 2022, GoodRx listed the cost for a month’s supply of Lucemyra as being between $1,145.61 and $1,267.57. 

Note: The manufacturer has low- and no-cost pricing options for those with and without private medical insurance. See the “support and savings” section of the Lucemyra site. 

Is there a generic for Lucemyra?

Currently, there is no generic version of this medication.

Does Medicare cover Lucemyra?

No it doesn’t, according to GoodRx.

What is the typical starting dose of Lucemyra?

According to the manufacturer, the typical starting dose is three tablets (each tab = 0.18 mg) taken 4 times a day for the first 5 to 7 days after the last opioid use. After that, your doctor will dose you based on the severity of your remaining symptoms. The maximum daily dose is 16 tablets a day (4 tablets per dose). If you have liver or kidney problems, your dose might be different. 

When should I start taking Lucemyra?

You can take Lucemyra during the period when you experience a lot of withdrawal symptoms, which is usually the first 5 to 7 days after your last opioid use.

How long should I take Lucemyra?

As always, this is up to your prescribing doctor, however, the standard is up to 14 days. 

Can I stop Lucemyra if I feel better?

No. Suddenly stopping this medication may cause high blood pressure and/or withdrawal symptoms, including trouble sleeping, muscle aches, diarrhea, anxiety, sweating and chills. Your doctor should taper your dose over 2 to 4 days. 

Will Lucemyra stop all withdrawal symptoms?

Unfortunately, no drug has accomplished this yet. Stopping opioid addiction is worth it a millionfold, but there’s discomfort to withdrawing—there’s just no way around that. So while Lucemyra can’t completely remove all withdrawal symptoms, it does provide relief to make the process more tolerable.  

Is Lucemyra a treatment for opiate use disorder?

No, Lucemyra is not considered treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), also known as opioid addiction. It treats the symptoms of withdrawal, but not the underlying disorder. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) defines OUD as “a desire to obtain and take opioids despite social and professional consequences… [people with OUD experience] an overpowering desire to use opioids, increased opioid tolerance, and withdrawal syndrome when discontinued.”

Is there treatment for OUD?

The NCBI continues, “The disease is treated with opioid replacement therapy using buprenorphine or methadone, which reduces the risk of morbidity and mortality. Naltrexone may be useful to prevent relapse. Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdose.” Many people with OUD find it helpful to combine MAT with group and/or individual counseling and participation in peer support and 12-step programs. 

Additional medications for opioid use disorder

Three medications are FDA-approved to treat OUD: methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine.

  1. Methadone a long-acting opioid agonist. The medication eases withdrawal symptoms, reduces cravings, and blocks the effects of opioids. It’s taken once daily in liquid, powder and diskette forms. Federal law requires that methadone be administered daily in a certified opioid treatment program until you meet the criteria for take-home doses.
  2. Naltrexone is not an opioid. It is FDA-approved to treat OUD (extended-release intramuscular injectable) and alcohol use disorder (injectable and pill forms). It can be prescribed by a doctor.  
  3. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings, increases safety in cases of overdose, and lowers the potential for misuse of opioids.  

Suboxone is the brand name of the medication that combines buprenorphine with naloxone, a medication that reduces opioid cravings. The combination also blocks the receptors in the brain that “receive” the high. 

What’s the difference between Lucemyra and Suboxone?

Lucemyra is for those who want to do a shorter-term detox process. A typical path to recovery using this medication might look like:

  1. Stop opioid use
  2. Take Lucemyra under a doctor’s care for up to 14 days (the worst of the withdrawal symptoms should pass by day 7)
  3. Receive ongoing support through counseling, a 12-step program, etc.

Suboxone is for those who want to do a longer-term MAT program. A typical path to recovery using Suboxone might look like:

  1. Stop opioid use    
  2. Take Suboxone under a doctor’s care for as long as you both deem wise. For some this looks like 3 months, for others a year, and longer for others. After the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have passed, your doctor will lower your dose to a maintenance level.
  3. Receive ongoing support through counseling, a 12-step program, etc.

Opiates vs opioids: Is there a difference?

Yes. According to The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Opioids are the main category and refer to all natural, semisynthetic and synthetic opioids
  • Then there’s a subcategory of opioids known as opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine) that get their active ingredient from the poppy plant

The following are all opioids:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone 
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) 
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl

Opioid withdrawal symptoms 

The withdrawal symptoms from suddenly stopping opioids after extended use are severe. They include:

  • Anxiety, agitation, depression
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Eyes tearing, runny nose, yawning
  • Goosebumps, chills, sweats
  • Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Recovery Delivered may be able to help you or your loved one

We can help someone who wants to get off opioids. Recovery Delivered offers 100% online access to licensed online Suboxone providers, and the medication is delivered right to your door. Please reach out to us to discuss medication for drug withdrawal and detox. 

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