What if there was a drug to help those addicted to heroin get through recovery? What if that drug didn't risk a new addiction for the recovering user? What if that drug didn't need to be taken daily? With Naltrexone, or Vivitrol, all of this is possible. The drug is currently being used in Tennessee. Nurse practitioner Marta Pratt works at Westbrook Medical Center in West Knoxville and founded the clinic's Vivitrol program about two years ago, wbir.com reports. She sees more than 100 patients a month who receive Vivitrol injections and says the numbers are growing. "Vivitrol is a monthly injection, so you can't trade it or abuse it," she explained. "You come once a month to get the Vivitrol injection. It blocks the effects of opiates as well as controls the cravings." The drug was approved five years ago by the FDA.
Vivitrol is an extended-release, injectable form of Naltrexone, a drug that was once used to treat alcoholics in recovery. Pratt explains how it works, exactly. "(It) blocks the part of the brain where (addicts) achieve the euphoria. You will not get any euphoria or pleasure from opiates or alcohol while you're on the Vivitrol injection," she said. "It lasts for 28 days, so you come in once a month, and it's an extended-release form, so you don't come in and get a pill that you can skip. You actually get the injection, and it lasts for 28 days." Pratt goes on to defend the drug, saying it gives people their lives back, their jobs back. It takes 12 months for your brain to recover from drug use. "If you're on the injections every month, you can focus more on your recovery and get well," she says.
Vivitrol is the fighting chance every recovering addict needs, must have to get on the other side of addiction. The injections, as the story reports, are taken for 12 to 18 months in conjunction with therapy. But in order for Vivitrol to work, the patient must be clean for a week before treatment can start. Another drawback is the price of the injections, which range between $700 to $1,000. Thankfully, many insurance programs offer some form of coverage for the drug. With the heroin epidemic making headlines across the country, including presidential hopefuls, debates and the President himself addressing the issue at the State of the Union, drugs like these are no longer an option, they are a necessity.
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