A new “medication” for treatment of opioid addiction?

Like me, you may be seeing the headlines from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement late yesterday that an existing medication for the treatment of alcohol dependence has now been approved for the treatment of opioid dependence. The approval of the medication is for use among adults over the age of 18 and is phrased by the FDA as, “for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence.” 
This could be a major positive development for families with a young adult dealing with an addiction to prescription pain medications or heroin. The non-narcotic, non-addictive medication, Vivitrol from the company Alkermes is certain to get the attention of physicians, treatment professionals, patients and their families. Because addiction is a chronic disease of the human brain, and opioid addiction, in particular, is so often characterized by frequent relapse, this new FDA approval could mean that a person entering treatment for addiction to an opioid would have the benefit of a once-monthly, opioid-blocking medication during treatment and for some period afterward. 
My view is that this medication, or any medication of this kind, must be used at the same time with appropriate addiction treatment services, including psychosocial support. I believe that is consistent with what experts are saying about the emerging field of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).  MAT is an approach to treatment of substance use disorders that combines use of a medication with appropriate treatment services, including counseling and behavioral therapy. 
This should come as good news to parents who are at the center of our mission.  Over the past year, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has worked closely with parents and experts in the treatment and recovery field to create Time To Get Help.This new treatment resource and community helps parents and caregivers gain a better understanding of teen alcohol and drug abuse, dependence and addiction; get support from experts and other parents who have been there and understand the challenges and emotions of caring for an addicted child; and find the right treatment for their child and family. 
What are your thoughts on opioid addiction and approaches like MAT? We would love to hear from you.

10 Responses

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    Ivy Carpenter

    November 1, 2013 at 6:56 PM


    If your daughter is anything like mine, She knows what she is doing and has it all under control. I have been thru three years of pure hell with my daughter, who started out the same, sampling drugs that she was in control of. Shes now 24 and trying to get her detoxed from opiates is nearly impossible. She went from oxy, to crack cocaine to heroin, I even tried to take her to rapid detox, she had too many different chemicals to do this safely and the fly by night clinic in Michigan that does this is pretty dam scarry, I would never go there again, it scared the be-jesus out of me. Totally unprofessional and totally fly by night, everything about it is temporary and feels like its an underground procedure. So now she is in a methadone treat and I honestly dont know how that is doing either, whatever you can do to keep her away from that stuff please do, it will only get worse and seeing your baby with needle marks and totally messed up is the most sickening picture I have experienced and trust me I never thought my beautiful little girl would do such a thing either………..

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    November 19, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    This treatment sounds wonderful; but, is is addictive. Does one have to take this injection monthly for life? My 19 year old daughter uses oxy codones from time to time. She admits to enjoying them and can’t seem to find fault with her usage. She’s just been arrested for possession and facing a court date soon. I am following her around to the point that I am becoming physically ill and can’t go on like any longer. Please tell me more about Vivitrol. This is the first time I’ve read about this.

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    Patti Herndon

    November 18, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    Vivitrol is costly. In doing some internet searches I found that there are some offers that can considerably lower the cost of the treatment, at least for a trial period. One such offer I read reports that it can make the medication available for up to one year for those without insurance.

    I think it’s worth looking into these kinds of offers and finding out what they are about. When we increase our menu of options it empowers our sense of hope. That’s always a good thing.

    Addiction is the journey. Recovery is the Destination

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