Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Promising anti-addiction drug now available

The US is in an addiction tsunami. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of fatal overdoses reached a new high of over 47,000 in 2014. That's 125 people a day.

Prescription opiods reduce pain and suffering and some people need them to survive and function. But--says Russell Surasky, MD, with the Surasky Neurological Center for Addiction--this class of drugs has a great potential for misuse.

Potential? They are being misused everyplace! (Including by a member of my family and don't even GET me started on the destruction they wreak on a family.)

Surasky says people see addiction as a moral failing--a matter of willpower. However, drugs change the brain in ways that make it difficult to resist the urge to keep taking the drugs and more and more of them at that.

Just deciding to stop taking them is next to impossible, Surasky says.

If the damage to the brain can't be healed, the cravings will persist for the rest of the person's life.

Now, though, there is a relatively effective treatment--naltrexone (Vivitrol(tm).

This is an opiod antagonist--it binds to the receptors in the brain and prevents the opiod from binding to those same receptors. It prevents any physical pleasure from the drugs (including alcohol). The person does not get high, does not get sick, and does not crave drugs.

Vivitrol is injected once a month. Drug use must be stopped 7-14 days before the first injection. How long does this go on? Depends on the person.

However, if you are addicted, take Vivitrol and then go back on drugs, your chance of an overdose is higher.

So there are stakes--and it takes a firm commitment to quitting, along with counseling, and a strong support system.

Still...this could be an option for many people.

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