Vivitrol — it’s the strategy a South Ohio drug court judge is pioneering to help heroin and painkiller addicts overcome their addictions. While drug courts normally favor traditional inpatient/outpatient addiction treatment, it seems that Ohio‘s desperate times call for desperate measures. As addiction destroys the state from the inside out, it’s looking for all the help it can get.
What is Vivitrol?
Vivitrol is a brand name for the drug Naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist that is used during detox to block the effects of getting high on opiates (heroin & prescription painkillers). Originally developed for alcohol detox, it was approved by the FDA in 2010 to treat opiate addiction. It is prepared as an injection, which is administered once a month under the care of a doctor.
Why Use Vivitrol in Ohio?
Of all places, why are they using Vivitrol in Ohio drug courts? Ohio has been hit especially hard by the nationwide painkiller epidemic. In the whole state, the #1 cause of death is accidental. The #1 cause of accidental death is from drug overdose, and the #1 drugs responsible for overdoses are painkillers (especially OxyContin, Fentanyl, and methadone). Action groups and law enforcement have sought to address the problem, but addiction still runs rampant. As new regulations make painkillers less available, opiate addicts are turning to heroin. In 2010, heroin was second only to marijuana as the cause for primary admissions into Ohio drug rehabs.
What This Means
Vivitrol is not a solution for drug addiction, and Judge Fred Moses is aware of that. He sees it as pointing toward the solution, not being a solution in and of itself. 80% of the drug court’s participants have graduated, and 60% are employed. Most importantly, there have been no further legal or drug problems whatsoever among participants. By and large, Vivitrol significantly decreases rates of relapse and makes addiction therapy much more effective. By making addicts physically unable to get high, Vivitrol forces them to turn to drug rehabs and addiction therapy for help.