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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FDA Approves Injectable Drug To Treat Opioid-Dependent Patients

Opioid addiction is one of the more difficult drugs to kick, addicts usually experience terrible: pain, nausea, shaking, and cold sweats. Once an addict has braved their way through detox there are still strong cravings for the drug, as the opioid receptors in the brain scream for their medicine because the brain can no longer produce opiates on their own. Naltrexone is a drug that was originally used to treat alcoholics, it was found to have the ability to block the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the effects of drugs like morphine, heroin, and other opiates which will help addicts refrain from using those types of drugs because they will no longer work. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called Vivitrol to treat and prevent relapse after patients have detoxed completely.

Vivitrol is an extended-release formulation of Naltrexone administered by intramuscular injection once a month. Vivitrol was studied for six months to make sure that it was safe and effective in preventing opiate addicts from relapsing. The study compared Vivitrol treatment to a placebo treatment with detoxed patients who no longer experienced physical dependence. It was found that those patients that were given Vivitrol were more likely to stay and continue drug treatment and stay away from using opiates. Thirty-six percent of the Vivitrol-treated patients were able to stay in treatment for the full six months without using drugs, compared with 23 percent in the placebo group.

If an addict taking Vivitrol decides he cannot handle it and decides to use one of the various types of opiates available they will have withdrawal symptoms relatively quickly. People who take drugs like Naltrexone become hypersensitive to opiates while taking the drug and if they miss their monthly dose of it and decided to start using drugs again they will be more susceptible to an overdose.

Patients who decide to take part in a Vivitrol regimen once a month will receive an intramuscular injection administered only by a physician. Vivitrol requires a special administration needle that comes with the product; Vivitrol should not be injected using any other needle. Recovering addicts should be aware that Vivitrol is not without side effects including: nausea, tiredness, headache, dizziness, vomiting, decreased appetite, painful joints, and muscle cramps. There are also more serious side effects that may be severe enough to convince one to stay away from Vivitrol altogether; reactions at the site of the injection severe enough to require surgery, also: liver damage, allergic reactions, rashes, swelling of the face, pneumonia, depressed mood, suicide, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior.

"Addiction is a serious problem in this country, and can have devastating effects on individuals who are drug-dependent, and on their family members and society," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "This drug approval represents a significant advancement in addiction treatment."

It is always best to go through treatment relying more on the program of recovery than on drugs of any kind, sometimes drugs like Vivitrol (Naltrexone) are necessary for people who simply cannot fight off their cravings and need an extra push, but, they are not required for success. Recovery comes from the inside, only you have the power to make the choice to stay clean and sober; preventative drugs like Vivitrol for opiates or Antabuse for alcohol can only do so much.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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