26 Aug Vivitrol Key Weapon in Heroin Battle
With the use of heroin increasing every day around the country, in suburbs, rural areas and cities alike, those who treat the addicts are eager for better treatments. Heroin use has been on the rise thanks to the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. Crackdowns on misuse of these pills has led addicts to seek a similar, cheaper and more accessible high in the street drug heroin. Now there are hundreds of thousands of addicts hooked on this terrible drug and desperate for help. For many, another drug called Vivitrol may be the answer.
Medication for Heroin Addiction
Using another drug to battle heroin addiction is not a new idea. For decades, heroin users have been treated with a replacement drug called methadone. Like heroin, methadone is an opioid, but it doesn’t produce the same high. Heroin acts quickly and produces an intense high. Methadone acts slowly. Heroin addicts can be given methadone as part of maintenance therapy. It provides the addict with a steady opioid supply in an effort to reduce the withdrawal symptoms that typically lead the user back to heroin. Eventually, the addict is supposed to be weaned from the methadone.
Methadone can help addicts, but it is imperfect and some claim it simply replaces one addiction with another. A newer drug, naltrexone, has been used to help people addicted to alcohol and drugs. For alcoholics, it helps to reduce cravings; for heroin addicts, it blocks the effects of the drug. If taken regularly, the addict will get no impact from using heroin. Of course, the problem with this is that naltrexone is taken as a daily pill. The addict can simply stop taking it and go back to using heroin.
The Miracle of Vivitrol?
Naltrexone has great potential to help addicts. If an addict is taking it regularly, as directed, he or she will have no reason to return to heroin. The problem is that not everyone will be dedicated to taking the pill daily. A new solution to that issue is an injectable form of the drug that can be administered in clinics on a monthly basis. Called Vivitrol, injectable naltrexone was developed with the financial backing of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was approved for use in alcoholics in 2006 and for heroin and opioid addicts in 2010.
Some heroin addicts who have used Vivitrol call it a miracle cure. Once given the injection, they no longer feel any need to use. Others are more cautious and have concerns. Research is still limited as to how effective Vivitrol is and how safe it is when used over the long term. A big issue with calling any medication a cure for addiction is that it may lead to the dismissal of valuable therapy. No drug for addiction is recommended as a sole treatment. All experts believe that these drugs should be used in combination with therapy and support groups. Addiction in most people is the result of underlying emotional and mental health issues, which need to be addressed for complete healing.
Vivitrol is an exciting and promising new drug that has the potential to help many heroin addicts, especially those who feel they have no other options. Heroin is one of the most addictive of all substances and if there is a medication that can help addicts come clean, it should be embraced and offered to those who need it.
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