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HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Oregon Drug Court Will Begin Vivitrol For Opiate Addicts

Lane County will become the first in the state to administer the anti-craving drug.

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By McCarton Ackerman

06/23/14

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This summer, the drug court of a small Oregon county will become the first in the state to begin administering a drug that could help opiate addicts kick their habit.

Vivitrol, a drug which is injected once per month, will be provided by the Lane County Adult Drug Court through a $38,000 grant given by the Oregon Community Foundation. The funds will pay for roughly 17 doses of the drug, which can cost anywhere from $800-1,000 per shot. Approximately 115 people in the drug court and Lane County Veterans Treatment Court will be eligible to begin using Vivitrol.

County statistics show that 43% of people currently in the local drug court use opiates, so Vivitrol’s ability to curb the craving for opiates like heroin, as well as reduce the euphoric effects, could have overwhelmingly positive benefits. Court officials also like the fact that unlike other medicines used to treat opiate addiction such as Suboxone and Methadone, it is not a narcotic and doesn’t have to be taken daily.

“(Every) morning, you would have to make the decision to say no to the opiate (and) say yes to the medication,” said Carrie Carver, a sergeant with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s a very hard decision to make. [And] there’s always a lot of concern about people substituting one addictive substance for another. Vivitrol is not pleasure-producing, it’s not addictive and it’s not associated with abuse.”

A 2011 study confirmed that Vivitrol helped opiate addicts stay drug-free for longer periods of time. The project involved 250 participants and was paid for by the manufacturer of the drug, Alkermes Inc. Researchers found that 94% of participants given Vivitrol were able to stay drug-free after an initial two weeks, compared to 77% who were given a placebo.

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