EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFIGHTING DRUG ABUSE
from Eyewitness News Online
Vivitrol Lauded As A Powerful Weapon Against Addiction
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Matt Durrett, John Tincher
Web Producer: Kennie Bass
Reported: Feb. 22, 2013 6:22 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 22, 2013 6:30 PM EST
Logan , Logan County , West Virginia
Brenda Francis' life was nearly destroyed by drugs. She was hurt on the job and eventually became addicted to prescription painkillers.
Francis lost her job, her husband and her freedom after landing in jail.
"The year 2000 I had an accident," Francis said. "I'm a pharmacy tech. I was sent to a pain clinic. I had crushed my left foot. And when I went to the pain clinic they prescribed me Hydrocodone. It was Klonopin. And, you know, I went from there.
But Francis found hope when she learned about a new treatment for drug abuse. For the last year, she's been taking Vivitrol. And she says it's saved her life.
"This medication is a godsend to me," Francis said. :It really is. It causes the cravings to go away immediately. It makes you feel happy. And it's not a drug. It's not like Methadone and Suboxone. Because I've tried Methadone and you're still in opiate land, so to speak. And that's not a good place to be."
Unlike other treatments for opioid addiction, Vivitrol is non-narcotic. It doesn't make you high.
Here's how it works: Vivitrol targets the limbic region of the brain, which handles basic drives, urges, rewards and pleasure. The medicine attaches itself to certain opioid receptors and serves to block from narcotics. That means there is no high or pleasurable feelings from using the drugs.
"It's a miracle drug," Dora Davis, a nurse with Logan/Mingo Area Mental Health said. "It's a drug that I believe God almighty had something to do with himself. I have seen people's lives changed. I have seen them lose their homes, their children, CPS involved. Some of them lost their children then they did really good on Vivitrol. They got back on the right road off of opiates."
It's recommended patients stay on Vivitrol between six months and a year. That can be an expensive proposition. Each shot costs about 12-hundred dollars.
However, the treatment is covered by Medicaid, Medicare and most private insurers. Additionally, Alkermes, the company which makes Vivitrol, offers a program which covers up to five hundred dollars a month in co-pays or deductibles. To be eligible there are no income requirements but patients must be at least 18 and have health insurance.
"As far as I'm concerned as a nurse for 28 years, in mental health 24 years this is the answer. I push Vivitrol," Davis said.
Francis says Vivitrol has given her a second chance and she wants to use it to help others who are in the same situation she was.
"You've got to want this more than anything," Francis said. "You've got to want your life back. You've got to want to find yourself again because you actually lose yourself on this journey. And it's painful. You don't care about anything. You care about waking up, finding your fix, getting your fix. You're either sick or high. And that's not a life."
Right now, there are limited locations in West Virginia where you can receive a Vivitrol injection. The West Virginia Nursing Network in Hurricane is one Vivitrol injector site. The organization can also supply nurses to travel to doctor's offices and administer the medication.
Patients or Doctors interested in more information can contact 304-542-1968.
For more information about Vivitrol, visit www.vivitrol.com.
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