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New treatment explored to combat opiate addiction

UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

With the rising death toll from drug overdoses, researchers and doctors are looking for different ways to get people to kick the drug habit. Some are reporting short-term success with a new drug treatment that is blocking the high of drugs like heroin.

It's called Vivitrol, an injection carrying an extended release of a drug called naltrexone. The key issue is that it's good for about a month, far different from a drug like methadone which requires a daily dose.

Doctor Torin Finver says that daily visit gives treatment people a chance to see how a patient is doing. He's a family practice doctor and clinical instructor specializing in addiction. Doctor Finver says after about six-months some people stop getting the shots and they fall back into drugs.

"Addiction is a chronic, life long disease that has both relapses and remission and that medication in an appropriate setting is very useful at preventing relapse back to the dependency in an opiate addict," Finver said. 

"But like any chronic disease when you stop an effective treatment, the tendency is for the disease to come back."

There's a new study looking into people who have stayed with the shots for at least a year. Doctor Finver says Vivitrol isn't a silver bullet but it does seem to work better than just counselling or some other drugs which also block the effects of opioids.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.