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Vivitrol is Miracle Drug to Curtail Heroin Abuse

Vivitrol is Miracle Drug to Curtail Heroin Abuse

The Putnam County Courier

August 27, 2015

By Eric Gross

An innovative treatment that works as an opioid blocker by turning off certain brain receptors to impede the ‘high’ associated with heroin and other narcotics, is being called a miracle drug after achieving success at Arms Acres in Carmel.

The administration of Vivitrol is different from other medication-assisted therapies because, according to Dr. Frederick Hesse, Medical Director of the drug and alcoholic treatment facility, “Vivitrol is not a narcotic nor is it addictive while not requiring daily dosing.”

Dr. Hesse invited this reporter to Arms Acres last week to chat about the alarming statistics about opioid abuse.

Dr. Hesse said America, New York State and Putnam County were “moving in the wrong direction. Treatment centers for heroin are at an all-time high since data collections began over two decades ago. Between 1999 and 2013, the rate of opioid related deaths in the U.S. nearly quadrupled while in New York City alone, more than 10,000 unintentional drug overdose deaths were reported during the same span.” In 2013, the Center for Disease Control reported last week more than 42,000 overdose deaths in the U.S.

Dr. Hesse explained that people first become dependent to prescription opiates: “When they become physically dependent on these drugs, physicians either stop prescribing due to the ‘I Stop Law’ or they need something stronger and friends are sought who have connections for heroin.”

Dr. Hesse described heroin as the “logical alternative to people in such a situation. They have no where to obtain legal medications while at the same time do not want to go into withdrawal.”

Years ago the use of heroin was termed as being “antisocial. Today,” said Dr. Hesse, “middle class adults between the ages of 25 to 49 are having the peak overdose deaths. As the prescription drugs have declined in their overdose death rate, the heroin deaths have skyrocketed due to the fact that people are not accustomed to heroin while some batches are stronger than others.”

A 58 year old drug and alcohol counselor, was addicted to alcohol, cocaine and prescription pain pills for decades prior to the turning of his addiction into a positive.

In a telephone interview last week, the Westchester resident admitted abusing drugs since the age of 13. His addiction reached a critical point when his wife told him to stop doing cocaine or she would leave. He stopped but was soon introduced to Oxycontin, taking as many as eight pills daily— at times, combining them with morphine and Ambien. Eventually, he lost everything including his house and four children. He ended up in the hospital and was transferred to a rehabilitation center for six weeks where he detoxed and began his life in recovery.

“I am celebrating my 11th year of recovery this New Year’s Eve,” he said.

He said had it not been for Naltrexone and an extended release version called Vivitrol, combined with counseling, “I wouldn’t be here talking to you.” He described Vivitrol as a “miracle. I took the drug for four years and it has really paid off.”

September is National Drug Addiction Recovery Month— a time dedicated to promoting the message that recovery is possible for all who suffer.

Dr. Hesse noted that three main treatments are available today. First, old fashioned abstinence, which Dr. Hesse said was “very effective although it is 2017 kaya review being considered as old fashioned by many professionals. This was the philosophy that Arms Acres was founded on more than 30 years ago.”

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As times have changed, new medications have been adapted to keep patients off illegal drugs. Dr. Hesse said the simplest solution was to “keep them on maintenance medication.”

Now with Vivitrol, opiate receptors are blocked. Dr. Hesse said “the patient has no cravings since his or her receptors are not open. Since the receptors are occupied, heroin or opiates entering the system will have little or no effect preventing against overdoses because it would take 10 to 20 times more than the usual dose to overcome that.”

In 2006, Vivitrol was aproved by the FDA for alcohol treatment and six years later, Uncle Sam gave the go ahead for drug treatment. Dr. Hesse said “Vivitrol has given patients a new lease on life. The cravings have been diminished and the patient has a new focus and mental energy to cope with their problems.”

A series of overdose prevention training workshops is being planned for Arms Acres starting in mid to late September. Dr. Hesse said patients and families will be able to receive a free Narcan kit after completing a 30 minute training session.

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