Category Archives: Naltrexone

Opioid Addiction Spiking in Guilford County North Carolina

policeGuilford County is the third most populated county in the state of North Carolina. Located within Guilford County are the cities of Greensboro and High Point – both of which are experiencing a surprising increase in opioid addiction and related overdoses.

The High Point Enterprise news reported that the High Point Vice and Narcotics unit has begun to make a favorable impact on the problem with multiple arrests of those trafficking heroin locally. The article documents that 70 reported High Point opioid overdoses have occurred thus far in 2014 with 9 of those ending in death. Six people were arrested the week of July 14 and are being held on multi-million dollar bonds for their roles in selling or trafficking heroin. To emphasize the local impact, the HP Enterprise reported that 7 overdoses occurred within a 24 hour period on May 16, 2014.

Just 15 miles away in the neighboring city of Greensboro, Rhino Times covered the local explosion in heroin addiction much of which has been driven by individuals turning to heroin when they could no longer obtain prescription opioids like oxycodone. Rhino Times interviewed the Director of Guilford County Emergency Services, Jim Albright, who stated that a particularly strong strain of heroin hit the streets of Greensboro in late April, 2014.

Over the weekend of April 25, the Guilford County EMS responded to an avalanche of calls in response to people overdosing on the new potent version of heroin. Mr. Albright is reported to have identified that 21 overdoses and 5 deaths occurred just in that one weekend. Due to the potency of the drugs, some victims were found with a needle still in their arm.

Highlighted in the article was the life saving properties of Narcan, a drug that quickly reverses the dangerous overdose effects of opiates. Narcan can be administered by injection or squirted into the nasal cavity. As it is absorbed into the body, it restores breathing to those that have overdosed. Narcan is now kept in first responder vehicles, firetrucks, and ambulances. Visit Alcohol & Drug Services for more on Narcan and opioid overdose prevention kits.

For information on methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction, click here.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

opioid-addiction-childrenThere is increasing momentum building for opioid addiction treatment in response to the growing opioid addiction problem in the United States. Many teenagers and young adults who are being introduced to prescription opiates are at risk for developing a crippling drug dependency. The risk is increased as these youth discover that heroin is a relatively cheaper alternative than pain pills purchased on the street.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org has published a 36 page guide outlining opioid addiction and the therapeutic role that medication-assisted treatment can have even for teens and young adults. Methadone, suboxone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are highlighted in the guide with an accompanying description of each medication and its use in opioid treatment.

Opioid replacement therapy has historically been used as a treatment of last resort in adult populations. The dilemma is that a high percentage of opioid addicted individuals are unable to remain drug free with traditional models of treatment that do not include medication assistance of some variety like naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone. Overcoming opioid withdrawal without effective symptom relief presents a serious obstacle in the recovery process.

The Partnership at DrugFree.org recognizes that the wave of opioid addiction in America is mounting. The news media have been covering this issue too with some regularity over the past year. Effective remedies need to be in place as all ages seek help for opiate addiction. If we are to save lives, the stigma of medication-assisted therapy and the misunderstanding around it must be finally removed.

Vivitrol in Opiate Addiction Treatment

viviVivitrol® is a new product of Alkermes (a U.S. based pharmaceutical company who specialize in disease management medications). Vivitrol received FDA approval in October 2010 for use in the prevention of opioid relapse following opioid detoxification. It is an extended release formulation of naltrexone designed to be administered through a once monthly IM (intramuscular) injection.

The medication is a non-addictive, opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids, and thus discourages opioid misuse since no subjective euphoria is experienced. Opioid addicted individuals are often at high risk for relapse following opioid detox, and intensive support is very helpful in assisting these individuals with establishing a comfortable, lasting sobriety following successful opioid detox.

Vivitrol must be administered by a healthcare professional, and recipients should not have active liver disease complications since naltrexone (the active ingredient in Vivitrol) is contraindicated for those with acute hepatitis. Like any medication-assisted intervention, Vivitrol should be used in conjunction with ongoing behavioral health counseling in order to maximize a client's chance of successful long term recovery through skill development and lifestyle change.

The medication is not inexpensive (obviously a patented medication with no available generic equivalent). But considering its potential benefit to those in early recovery, it may be a worthwhile short-term investment in the first 30 to 90 days when recovering persons are at highest risk for opioid relapse. An obvious benefit of Vivitrol is that the patient does not have to take a daily pill, so either accidental or purposeful missed doses are not a concern.