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New Drug Addiction Treatment Using Injectable Medication Found To Be Effective

Update Date: Nov 30, 2016 09:30 AM EST
New England Towns Struggle With Opioid And Heroin Epidemic
Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016 in Norwich, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented opioid pain pill and heroin addiction epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper (Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

There is a new breakthrough drug addiction treatment that involves the use of injectable medication, which is yielding positive results in clinical trials and actual tests on recovering addicts. The injectable Naltrexone carried by the Vivitrol brand is now helping drug addicts continue to be clean and sober with few incidences of going into a relapse.

Drug addiction is a difficult problem to treat because it is not just the mind that needs to be controlled, but also the body's cravings that need to be stopped. Many recovering addicts often fall into a relapse when their body experience withdrawals symptoms that bring not only pain but also a lot of stress both mentally and physically.

It is not surprising then that even the best drug addiction prevention program fail to prevent relapses and the cycle of substance abuse continues. Recent figures compiled from 2003 to 2013, reveal that opioid deaths in the United States have significantly increased to 92 percent while heroin deaths rose by 300 percent across the states, The Washington Post reported.

Evidently, drug addiction has also increased, while prevention and treatment lag behind, but not for long. A breakthrough drug Naltrexone is now made into an injectable medication using the Vivitrol brand name has proven to be effective in treating persons with opioid and heroin abuse.

Vivitrol works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, curbing cravings and even preventing the feeling of getting high even when taking opioids, WTHITV reported. This helps addicts in the recovery stage from going into a relapse with carvings no longer a primary challenge.

The drug is administered monthly, but the patient must be clean of opioid for at least a week before getting the shot. The wonder drug is actually an old one, which was made into pills in the 1970s but never achieved wide patronage.

Medical researchers have recently made an injectable version and tested these in various clinical trials. The results were impressive with patients receiving the shots reporting higher success rates of fully leaving bad habits behind.

However, some doctors warned that the drug needs to be further studied particularly on its long-term effects on its users. There is also the issue of its cost, which is as much as $1,000 dollars per shot, an amount that may be covered by persons with Medicaid or Medicare, but in many cases, they are not.

As of now, Vivitrol is offered by private practice doctors with a few detention centers with a subsidized program for the shot. Drug addiction may have found an effective treatment, but who pays for it remains unresolved.

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