In Vermont, officials are coming together to combat the opiate addiction epidemic. The state just launched a new treatment option for those addicted to the drug. It's a pilot program the state is hoping will make a great impact on those struggling with an addiction to painkillers and heroin. The details include a monthly injection in lieu of traditional opiate addiction treatments. The injection, naltrexone, is not a substitute for opiates. In fact, it doesn't even work unless the patient has already detoxed from the drug. Once injected, naltrexone doesn't give its user a high. Instead, it blocks the high from heroin or prescription painkillers, vtdigger.org reports, rendering using useless. "Naltrexone," as the paper goes on to say, "is not a new drug. It's been available for some time as a daily pill, and is often used to treat alcoholism. However, Vivitrol, the injection form of the drug, is fairly new."
The pilot program is being introduced to the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility. The goal is to "target opiate dependent offenders as they leave prison and re-enter the community," the paper says.
The state also has plans to offer naltrexone as an option at residential facilities and the state's treatment facilities, as well.
What Vermont hopes is that this type of therapy will give the addict a footing in recovery, and not just in the physical sense, but in the sense of a new start altogether. When it comes to recovery it's not about just overcoming the addiction to the drug, it's about overcoming the triggers as well. While naltrexone will help with part of the addiction, the user must make the effort to change the people, places and things that trigger their use. With naltrexone in place, it will allow users to think clearly, helping them learn to avoid their triggers and hopefully stay clean.
As of now, the program is a necessity in Vermont. As the story points out, "Some 1,000 more Vermonters are in treatment now than there were in January 2014." And in some parts of the state, "demand for treatment outweighs capacity. In October, a treatment hub in Burlington had more than 300 people on the waitlist."
With numbers like that the state could not turn away from the needs of its citizens who are struggling, forcing programs like this into action. Here's to hoping the new program is effective in a way that other states can look to this as a potential solution.
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