This article is about a potential new drug that would alleviate the withdrawal elements of heroin. It is called Vivitrol, a form of altrexone, and it is currently available.
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the usage of a new drug, Vivitrol, to help people suffering from heroin and opiate withdrawal. Meant as a drug to be injected once a month, the drug is meant to help people addicted to opiates such as codeine, morphine, heroin, and OxyContin. It has been primarily approved for opiate addicts who have gone through detoxification and have been free of opiates for at least seven days.
Vivitrol is a long-acting form of naltrexone, or ReVia. Though newly approved, Vivitrol's active ingredient, naltrexone, is not entirely novel. It has been used since the 1970s to treat opiate addiction. Vivitrol itself has has been approved for alcohol treatment from the FDA just a few months ago, but sales of the drugs were not notably impressive.
The new approval of Vivitrol comes at the heels of a study done with 250 heroin addicts, after it has been shown to reduce relapse and narcotic cravings. After a six month study, 86 percent of patients taking Vivitrol were free of drugs and returned to society by gaining functional jobs or returning to school.
The way naltrexone works is by inducing opioid-receptor blockage while a recovering addict is in a state of impaired consciousness, with the intention to relieve withdrawal symptoms. In other words, Vivitrol blocks the effects of opiates on brain cells that normally register the sensations caused by opioid drugs and alcohol and lessens opiate cravings when taken for 12 weeks or more. It is meant to be taken as an injection, taken only once a month for a relatively short duration of time.
Vivitrol has been shown to be less addictive than other anti-addiction drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine. This is due to the fact that those drugs replace the opioid to which the patient has become addicted, in short, they are maintenance treatments. Vivitrol, on the other hand acts as an antagonist to the opioid receptors, which results in preventing relapse after the opioid dependence has concluded through detoxification. One dose of Vivitrol would last for 30 days, as opposed to the daily nature of the aforementioned drugs.
Having spoken to multiple treatment centers, I have noticed that Vivitrol is not yet embraced by the scientific community. Being relatively new, Vivitrol has yet to still be tested on numerous recovering addicts. It would most likely be accepted after half a year of testing.
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