Support for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) has continued to grow in recent years as the opioid epidemic in America has put a mounting strain on the country. While the numbers of overdoses and opioid-related deaths have steadily climbed to devastating heights there has been more effort to explore treatment options. A better understanding of the medical and mental health aspects of addiction has become a priority. Stigma has slowly begun to carry less weight while advocates push for more effective and supportive routes to care for recovering addicts. One thing people have turned to heavily is medications like Suboxone of Methadone in attempts to steer away from more illicit and dangerous substances like heroin or fentanyl.
The application of medication in treatment can be very useful. It is a strategy that can help with the preservation of life by helping people stay off more unpredictable and life-threatening substances. However, some would say that if used for long-term this form of treatment is still relying on the idea of substitution. Often times these drugs have their own very harsh withdrawal symptoms, especially with extended use.
Taking a look at the more popular drugs used for medication-assisted treatment, one may ask- can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals?
Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication Assisted Treatment is the use of anti-craving medications to try and help address issues related to drug dependence, withdrawal, and relapse. The more common medications used in MAT include:
But MAT is also utilized alongside comprehensive therapy and other forms of support. Experts and advocates for addiction recovery, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), insist that maintenance medications alone are not sufficient enough treatment.
Advocates for medication-assisted treatment will compare MAT to someone taking medication for diabetes or asthma, with the belief that maintenance drugs are an essential part of staying healthy. However, others in the world of addiction recovery still believe it is possible to be healthy in recovery without the prolonged use of powerful medications.
The truth is the answer may not be the same for everybody. Different treatments may be more useful for different people. No one should be ashamed of the method they use to get help. But we also want to look at how some drugs used in medication-assisted treatment might make things more complicated for certain people.
Looking at the most popular maintenance drugs for opioid addiction, of course, we find Suboxone. To better understand Suboxone withdrawals, we first have to know what it is. This popular brand name is used to identify a prescription medication that contains active ingredients:
- Buprenorphine- a narcotic opioid medication
- Naloxone– an opioid blocker that impedes the effect of opioid medications
This medication functions as a partial opioid agonist and diminishes cravings as well as prevents other opioids from reacting to the brain’s opioid receptors. Taken in low doses for short periods of time, the drug can be helpful in curbing opioid withdrawal symptoms while tapering off without too many residual effects.
The tricky part comes when someone uses Suboxone for an extended amount of time as a replacement for heroin or other opioids.
Sometimes this can lead to its own form of recreational use and physical dependence. Even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports that Suboxone is commonly susceptible to abuse. It is still a powerful drug.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
While Suboxone and other maintenance drugs may be a preferred tactic for going ‘cold turkey’ off of heroin or other opioids, the drug itself still has the power to cause its own set of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:
- Irritability or agitation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Profuse sweating
- Runny nose
- Frequent yawning
- Stomach pain or cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in mood
Not to mention precipitated withdrawal, when the ingredients in this medication can actually induce the onset of unpleasant symptoms rapidly, if not immediately, for someone actively engaged in opioid use.
Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication utilized since the 1970s to try and help people get off of heroin. It is typically used today under strict medical supervision because the drug is very potent and has a high risk of addiction. In fact, a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 2.46 million people reported to using methadone for a non-prescribed purpose at least once.
According to another study, in 2009 methadone was responsible for 1 out of every 3 opioid overdose deaths.
Because of the risks, a gradual taper should be utilized to wean someone off of methadone. Often times doctors will prescribe another detox medication to help with this process, with the tapering to be done under medical supervision.
But as with trying to quit heroin or other powerful opioids ‘cold turkey’, trying to abruptly discontinue methadone can bring on intense withdrawal. This includes physical and psychological symptoms such as:
- Runny nose
- Tearing or watery eyes
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Abdominal cramps
Many of these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of withdrawing from heroin or other opioids. So in a sense, this drug can create similar withdrawal symptoms as the drugs it is supposed to be used to treat.
Quitting Medication Assisted Treatment
Is it possible to quit medication-assisted treatment- yes, there are always other options for getting comprehensive care and lasting recovery without the prolonged use of these medications. Even relapse prevention is possible without relying on medications to fight cravings.
Can you quit medication-assisted treatment with no withdrawals? Well, that may be a process. It depends on a number of factors, such as the specific maintenance medication and the length of time using it. For example, someone who has been using methadone for years could probably have a much harder time getting off methadone than someone who used another medication for a month or so to help get off opioids.
Safety is crucial when deciding to quit MAT. Quitting medication-assisted treatment without a taper or other forms of medication can cause intense withdrawals. It is not suggested that someone try to quit MAT ‘cold turkey’ or without consulting a doctor for help with changing the dosage and slowly tapering off the drugs.
Again, just because it isn’t heroin or fentanyl doesn’t make it harmless.
MAT or Detox?
Medication-assisted treatment holds a lot of value, but the question becomes whether or not it is the kind of sustainable solution you want. Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. Medication-assisted treatment can be helpful in saving someone’s life who cannot stop using drugs. But is it something that will completely eliminate cravings and withdrawals, or will it just postpone these symptoms?
Remember, these are still powerful narcotic drugs that have a high risk for abuse. Some people end up using medication maintenance for life. Others will use it for a short period of time, with a detox period afterward. Either way, it is your choice; how long do you want to rely on substances, and to what extent?
Other models believe in providing holistic treatment and personalized therapy after a detox period, helping to reduce and remove chemical dependence and build a foundation for personal recovery.
Using medication to help with the painful and often overwhelming symptoms of withdrawal from opioids and other drugs can be essential to a smooth and healthy transition. In fact, with a safe medical detox, each individual is given an initial assessment to see what medications will be helpful in making this phase of treatment comfortable and safe. This can include medications for anxiety, mood disorders, physical pains and various other side-effects of substance abuse.
And when it comes to some of these medications, it can sometimes be necessary to continue using them.
The biggest difference is whether narcotic maintenance medications like Suboxone or methadone become a long-term prerequisite to recovery, or if they are used to help someone who is sick get better so that the real healing can happen.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing a safe medical detox to allow for a comfortable and healthy transition from active drug or alcohol use. Our facilities utilize an experienced and professional medical staff who help to monitor each individual’s progress and provide effective medical support for lasting recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
The Big Pharma industry is still in the hot seat, and this week another lawmaker is adding a new name to the roster of drug makers to be investigated for shady marketing practices. Alkermes, the company behind the opioid treatment implant Vivitrol, is now being investigated for how they market their product.
Background on Vivitrol
Vivitrol is another name given to the generic drug Naltrexone. Originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol dependence in 1994, Naltrexone eventually became approved for the treatment of opioid dependence. The medications primary use appears to be blocking the opiate receptors in the brain. It’s intended so that someone using heroin or other opiate-based drugs cannot experience the drugs high.
The Vivitrol shot is made by Boston-based biotech Alkermes. This medication stood out from other Naltrexone medications because Vivitrol is an injection given every 4 weeks with a monthly doctor visit. It is time released for longer lasting relief, instead of being a pill taken once a day.
Supposedly Vivitrol is intended to further help by reducing cravings for opioids. However, Naltrexone and Vivitrol have been refuted by many for having any notable effect on opioid cravings.
Enter Senator Harris
Kamala Harris is a Democratic California Senator who has announced she will be part of launching a new investigation into the sales and marketing practices of the makers of Vivitrol. According to the senator, Alkermes allegedly worked to increase sales of their opioid treatment medication through two questionable strategies:
“Aggressively” marketing Vivitrol to officials in the criminal justice system
Senator Harris says that Alkermes pushes for judges and lawmakers to use their product. The company even provided free samples, which resulted in Vivitrol being actively implemented in 450 treatment programs across 39 states.
Lobbying efforts by federal and state lawmakers
In her statement, Harris also alleges that the company has spent millions of dollars in direct appeals to government officials. Meanwhile, they were contributing to numerous congressional campaigns.
Due to the drug companies marketing, Vivitrol raked in well over $69 million dollars in the third quarter of 2017.
In her statement Senator Harris says,
“We are at the height of a crisis, and companies are taking advantage of pain in order to profit”
“We must hold these companies accountable for their deliberate actions that magnify the opioid epidemic and drive up the cost of drugs for Americans.”
The senator even quoted the chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Anna Lembke, who said,
“Alkermes has taken unethical drug promotion to new depths by enlisting judges, law enforcement personnel, and legislators to favor Vivitrol over proven treatments. Alkermes’ actions undermine public health.”
Which seems like some pretty strong words. In the midst of the opioid crisis, it might be fair to say we should use every resource we can get. However, the Big Pharma enterprises still need to be put in check when it comes to overlooking more effective treatments.
In fact, a 2011 review of studies suggested that Naltrexone was not significantly superior to placebo, and the authors believed there was no sufficient evidence to support Naltrexone therapy for opioid dependence.
One reason Senator Harris seems to have Vivitrol in the crosshairs seems to be that the pharmaceutical company made a habit out of promoting Vivitrol as a more effective treatment than other maintenance drugs, such as Suboxone or Methadone, even though there is no substantive data to support this claim.
As part of the investigation, Harris contacted Richard Pops, the Alkermes Chairman, requesting the company provide data and communication. At the moment Alkermes is disputing the allegations. Senator Harris appears to be calling their bluff, as she was requested that Alkermes submit:
Alkermes has also been asked to turn over any materials provided to participants or speakers for Alkermes since 2010. They’re being asked to disclose amounts paid to the company by various associations, including:
American Society of Addiction Medicine
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
Any studies presented to these groups are also to be turned in.
In their own statement, Alkermes states they are “focused on ensuring that patients, healthcare professionals, and criminal justice officials are educated on Vivitrol, and believes that patients should have access to all medications.”
There is no telling whether or not this investigation is going to turn into a witch hunt or if it will blow the lid off of even more bad behavior from Big Pharma. While other drug companies that can be connected to the opioid crisis are already facing lawsuits and others even criminal cases for racketeering and fraud, the Vivitrol producers might find themselves on the chopping block sooner rather than later.
There is already much disagreement about whether or not the Vivitrol treatment is really effective in the first place. Some say the medication helped save their life. Many others have horror stories of uncomfortable side-effects made worse by cravings. Either way, pharmaceutical companies still need to be held accountable for their marketing methods, especially when they seem a little suspect.
For now, this is all a request. Only Republican Senator Ron Johnson has the power to issue subpoenas on behalf of the Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.
When talking about the most effective treatment programs for addiction, we should also remember that maintenance drugs like Suboxone, Vivitrol and others are not exactly a solution. While they can be effective in keeping people alive and helping to overcome their sickness, the real healing does not come from magic pills or implants. The real transformation comes with developing the understand and the tools to take care of yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
While the nation is still struggling to find the right strategy to climb out of the opioid crisis in U.S. it seems many are holding onto the idea that Big Pharma is going to save us from the destruction they helped create. While we can agree that evidence-based medical assistance in recovery is a useful tool, some seem to think that the only fix for a pill problem is more pills, or in this case, more needles.
Just recently, after President Trump declared the opioid crisis a “National Health Emergency”, the advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 18-1 that a new injectable drug called RBP-6000 could benefit addicts and the lower of two doses studied had an “acceptable” safety profile.
So what does this mean for the opioid epidemic efforts? Is Indivior a miracle injection that is going to make the epidemic more manageable, or is it another kind of Methadone or Suboxone that is just keeping people hooked?
What is RBP-6000?
For a little background, RBP-6000 is an experimental drug designed to help fight America’s growing opioid addiction crisis. It is described as a sustained-release buprenorphine. It is designed to be delivered once a month as a subcutaneous injection. The compound solidified once in contact with bodily fluids and releases buprenorphine over time.
If approved, it will be the first monthly injectable buprenorphine treatment. When creating the drug the manufacturers studied two dosing regimens.
In one, 300 milligrams were given once a month for six months.
In the other, two doses of 300 milligrams were followed by four doses of 100 milligrams.
According to reports, there was only a minute difference in effectiveness between the two doses, and they drug company acknowledge that the higher dose of RBP-6000 caused more side effects. Looking closely into some of the reports from the research, some side-effects include:
Injection site pruritus
Upper respiratory tract infection
While these side effects were not noted in an extremely high percentage of those tested, they are still relevant to consider until there is more extensive data available. So far, the report says the safety profile is consistent with that of Suboxone.
So RBP-6000 is like Suboxone using the delivery of Vivitrol; another injectable drug used to try and block the effects of opioids.
Big Pharma Making Big Moves
This is one sign of how Big Pharma is stepping in to make a buck off of the opioid epidemic yet again.
Indivior is the company behind RBP-6000. It was originally part of Reckitt Benckiser as the Buprenorphine division but has since split off to be a specialty pharmaceutical company. Indivior already sells Suboxone Film, a product which combines buprenorphine and naloxone. Suboxone is a maintenance drug widely used in America to try and curb the effects of opioid addiction and withdrawal, but Suboxone is known to have its own side-effects and withdrawals. Some even attest that Suboxone is itself addictive and very difficult to get off of.
Two months ago the share prices for Indivior took a deep hit after a U.S. court ruling clearing the way for a generic rival to Suboxone Film. So, with new competition on the way in the Suboxone market, Indivior put a renewed focus on another maintenance drug to bring to market.
Some analysts already expect that RBP-6000 could capture around 30% of the broader buprenorphine market. Some believe this new form of injectable buprenorphine could generate annual sales of around $700 million by 2021.
Jefferies sees potential sales of $1.3 billion by 2025.
So now the push for this new drug is boosting its sales prospects as competitors threaten revenues from Suboxone sales.
To learn more about why Suboxone isn’t the easier answer some people think it is, download our FREE E-BOOK
“5 Things No One Tells You About Suboxone”
DOWNLOAD FREE E-BOOK
Waiting for FDA Final Ruling
This endorsement on behalf of RBP-6000 comes less than a week after FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced the agency’s plans to promote extensive use among opioid addicts of less harmful opioids such as methadone and buprenorphine, the active ingredient in RBP-6000.
However, some of the FDA panelists still would like to see more data about which patients should be given the higher dose. Other panelists say they would like to have it available, even though they lack of data supporting any additional benefit of higher doses. So even though the drug is shown to have side-effects in higher doses, and there is limited information on how these side-effects impact the individual, the FDA is considering to let this drug pass the grade.
The FDA’s decision is set to be made by November 30th, although typically the agency follows the recommendations of its advisory panels. So it may very well already be a done deal.
Why It Matters
Again, with respect to the importance of offering alternatives to particularly dangerous opioids like heroin or fentanyl. It is important to have resources for the purpose of preserving of life. Keeping people alive long enough to get help is crucial. But we also have to see that this is not a miracle cure.
Methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol may serve a purpose for some in a certain capacity. However, these drugs are not an adequate substitute for comprehensive addiction treatment. Each one of these methods should be accompanied by a holistic treatment plan that addresses all aspect of addiction, including emotional and mental health.
Drugs like RBP-6000 may help subdue the more serious symptoms from the physical side of addiction, but they can also present their own risks.
It is important to offer safe medical assistance, but we have to remember that these Big Pharma companies are not selling us instant cures to opioid addiction. This isn’t even the first time we have seen a new drug come out to try and treat the opioid problem from companies that are closely related or directly responsible for narcotic medications that helped fuel the issue.
Remember, there is not a quick fix for this problem. We cannot prescribe our way out of the problem. It is going to take better treatment resources beyond more medications.
Drugs like RBP-6000 from Indivior are not necessarily a bad thing, but they also may not be the kind of treatment people should focus on. Instead, there are safe medical treatment options that offer holistic resources and mental health services. A lasting recovery begins with effective treatment. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Narcan is a brand name for the opioid overdose antidote Naloxone hydrochloride. Technically speaking, the opioid antagonist is a synthetic congener of Oxymorphone that is structurally different in that the methyl group on the nitrogen atom is replaced by an allyl group. In the past couple years Narcan has gradually become a household name. With the opioid epidemic in America continuing to ravage many communities across the nation, Narcan has become one of the first lines of defense. For some people, while they know now what this powerful substance is, they are still unsure how to use Narcan to stop an opioid overdose.
NOTE: All instructions in this article come from the Harm Reduction Coalition website. You can also look for Narcan/Naloxone training in your area. Different brands may provide more specific instructions. Be sure to real labels and warnings on Narcan or Naloxone kits.
How to Use Narcan: More about Narcan
Narcan works by blocking the effects of opioids and can actually reverse an overdose in order to get medical attention to someone who is in need. The life-saving opiate antidote is used for the complete or partial reversal of opioid depression, including respiratory depression. An opioid overdose can cause breathing to slow down or stop completely, putting someone’s life in immediate danger. Some examples of opioid overdoses Narcan may be used to reverse include the drugs:
One major plus is that Narcan has no euphoric effects and cannot get someone “high” so abuse is not an issue. The overdose antidote is essentially harmless if there are no opiods present in someone’s system. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, there will be no effect. Narcan can still be effective when alcohol or other drugs are present with opiates. However, some of the incredibly potent synthetic drugs such as Fentanyl and carfentanil have shown to be somewhat resistant to Narcan treatment, meaning those overdosing due to carfentanil require extra doses to be stabilized.
Administration to opioid-dependent individuals may cause symptoms of opioid withdrawal, including:
- Fast heart rate
There are other measures that can be taken to help ease these symptoms as well.
How to Use Narcan: Intravenous Infusion
The most rapid onset of action is achieved by intravenous administration, which is recommended in emergency situations. Narcan may be diluted for intravenous infusion in either:
- Normal saline
- 5% dextrose solutions
2 mg of Narcan mixed in 500 mL of either solution provides a concentration of 0.004 mg/mL. Narcan should not be mixed with preparations containing:
- Long-chain or high molecular weight anions
- Any solution having an alkaline pH
No drug or chemical agent should be added to the mixture unless its effect on the chemical and physical stability of the solution has first been established. To use the injectable Narcan:
- If the person is not breathing perform rescue breathing for a few quick breaths.
- Use a long needle (called an IM or intramuscular needle) which about 1 – 1 ½ inch. NOTE: If there isn’t a big needle, a smaller needle is OK and inject under the skin, but big needles are better.
- Remove the pop off orange top from the vial
- Draw up 1cc (1cc=1mL=100u) of antidote into the syringe
- Inject into a muscle, the best being thighs, upper, outer quadrant of the butt, or shoulder. NOTE: Inject straight in to make sure to hit the muscle.
- After injection, continue rescue breathing 2-3 minutes.
- If there is no change in 2-3 minutes, administer another dose and continue to breathe for them.
NOTE: If the second dose of naloxone does not revive them, something else may be wrong— either it has been too long and the heart has already stopped, there are no opioids in their system, or the opioids are unusually strong and require more naloxone (such as Fentanyl or carfentanil).
For more information, you should be able to find instructions in the Narcan kit, or inquire when picking up a Narcan kit about any opportunities to receive more in-depth training.
How to Use Narcan: Nasal Spray
Another resource that has helped make huge progress in fighting opioid overdose death rates is the Narcan (or Naloxone) nasal spray kit. The variation has made training people to administer the overdose antidote much easier and much less dangerous. Without needles, the nasal spray system helps eliminate the issue of blood contamination.
According to instructions posted through the Harm Reduction Coalition, there are about 5 steps for how to use Narcan with nasal spray.
- If the individual is not breathing perform rescue breathing for a few quick breaths.
- Attach the nasal atomizer (applicator) to the needleless syringe and assemble the glass cartridge of naloxone.
- Tilt the head back and spray half of the naloxone up one side of the nose (1cc) and half up the other side of the nose (1cc).
- If there is no breathing or breathing continues to be shallow, continue to perform rescue breathing for them while waiting for the naloxone to take effect.
- If after about 3 to 5 minutes there is no change, administer another dose of naloxone and continue to breathe for them.
NOTE: If the second dose of naloxone does not revive them, something else is wrong—either it has been too long and the heart has already stopped, there are no opioids in their system, or the opioids are unusually strong and require more naloxone (such as Fentanyl or carfentanil).
Regardless of if you use an intravenous Narcan kit or a nasal spray kit, Narcan should never be used as substitute for emergency medical care. In the event of an opioid overdose one should always call 911 right away, even if the individual wakes up. Narcan can wear off between 30-90 minutes, while the effects of the opioids can last much longer. It is possible that after Narcan wears off the overdose can return.
Also look into Narcan training programs in your area.
How to Use Narcan: Get More Help
When someone has to be revived from an opioid overdose it can be a pretty clear cut indication that something needs to be done in order to help them stay safe.
Another difficult aspect of how to use Narcan is that naloxone can cause uncomfortable opioid withdrawals. Because Narcan blocks the action of opioids in the brain, people can wake up feeling withdrawals practically immediately and try to use again. Of course this could result in another overdose.
Beyond administering Narcan to save someone’s life, take this as an opportunity to seek resources and start a conversation about getting them the help they need. Preserving life is important, but saving a life by changing a life can make a world of difference. There are empowering and innovative addiction treatment programs that specialize in addressing this chronic, progressive and fatal substance use disorder. After surviving an overdose presenting someone with the opportunity to get treatment may be the best chance they get.
Holistic addiction treatment allows people who were once hopeless build the foundation of hope again. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call Palm Healthcare Company. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Against the back-drop of divisiveness about the relationship between the public and law enforcement, it is important to recognize the police departments and citizens working together to triumph over the greatest obstacles our communities face. All across America the words ‘protect and serve’ still mean something, and many of the brave men and women behind the badge are fighting to help addicts get a second chance.
The Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts set an inspiring new precedence back in 2015 when they began an initiative to allow drug users come to the police to ask for help. Users were told they could submit drugs to local law enforcement without fear of punitive action, and ask for help getting into inpatient treatment. This amazing shift in approach created a new sense of compassion for the addicts struggling to get clean, setting up a new system to try and heal the community instead of punish it. Police helping addicts into treatment has since become a growing trend in several states as more and more officials realize that the old ways aren’t really working.
A study published December of 2016 in The New England Journal of Medicine found the Gloucester program was showing admirable success.
Community advocates, police officers and political officials across America have begun modeling new programs after this approach, while others are pushing for similar opportunities. Some of these programs have been especially successful, while others have not been particularly sought after. Checking in on the way different areas are handling the opioid crisis and overdose outbreak, these initiatives make us believe there is still hope on the horizon.
Programs with Police Helping Addicts into Treatment
Let’s look at some of the programs that have adopted this new approach to supporting their suffering neighbors instead of trying to punish their way out of the problem.
The Safe Passage program was also started 2 years ago by the Police Department of Dixon, Illinois. Since then it has extended to a few other close by counties. Safe Passage has helped place 170 people into treatment, and so far the Police Chief Danny Langloss reports that more than half of those who got access to treatment through the program have had success after rehab.
Chief Langloss claims that in 2016, misdemeanor and felony drug arrests dropped by 39%, and he believes Safe Passage had a lot to do with it.
A Way Out
Police helping addicts into treatment in Lake County have joined forces from several areas to offer participants a change to receive addiction treatment. A Way Out launched a year ago, and according to their sources an average of around 12 people a month have reached out for help through the program. If this went on for a steady 12 months that means at least 144 people have been given a chance at getting help.
A Way Out accepts participants no matter where they live. According to Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther some families have brought their loved ones from different states to get access to treatment. Some instances there have even been individuals with criminal charges who have their warrants waived to enter the program.
Connect for Life
Naperville, Illinois also has a strong force of police helping addicts into treatment. Their version, called Connect for Life, directly connects individuals in need of treatment with social workers and recovering addicts who have stayed clean after treatment called ‘recovery liaisons’.
The idea here is to stay connected with each individual through the process of finding treatment, and beyond that to help them with finding sober homes, employment opportunities and other resources.
Anaheim Police Department in California has its own program offering free treatment to any drug users willing to ask for help. Part of the Kindness initiative with police helping addicts into treatment is the offer to receive the Naltrexone implant, which is designed to block the effects of opioids and alcohol in the brain.
Law enforcement officials in Anaheim acknowledge that they cannot arrest away addiction. They are hopeful eliminating the fear of asking for help will be instrumental in saving more lives.
In Nashville, North Carolina the Police Department started an initiative called HOPE, modeled after the Gloucester Police Department’s program. Since it launched back in February of 2016, about 172 people from multiple states have sought treatment through HOPE.
Again, police notice a profound impact on their community, crediting a 40% drop in crimes related to substance use disorder to the HOPE program.
Chatham Cares 4 U
A year ago in July, the Chathman, New York Police Department teamed up with PAARI to create the Chatham Cares 4 U Outreach Initiative Program. The police helping addicts into treatment urged their communities to feel safe coming to the police station to turn over drugs and paraphernalia, and to ask for help with treatment.
Chatham Cares 4 U and the success it has brought to the community has inspired other police departments in the state to create similar addiction recovery initiatives in their communities. Chathman Police Chief Volkmann also travels around New York to speak to police departments and other organizations about the program.
Safe Stations Program
In Maryland, Anne Arundel County Police and Fire Departments are collaborating with the Annapolis Police and Fire Departments to offer help to drug users in their area. The Safe Stations program launched in April of this year, opening the doors to the combined 38 stations for individuals seeking help with their addiction. Safe Stations was the first of its kind in Maryland, with locations open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to people needing help.
In just the few months it has been open, this initiative of police helping addicts into treatment has already placed over 18 people into treatment.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative
The PAARI program is a nationwide nonprofit organization that was started to support any local police departments in their efforts to work with opioid addicts. In the midst of the opioid epidemic there has been a massive movement toward innovative strategies for helping people, and the PAARI united after the Gloucester Police Department instituted their revolutionary program to focus on saving lives and changing them for the better.
The PAARI works with various elements across the country, including:
- The medical community
- Science-based recovery programs
- Police departments
PAARI is made up of private citizens, philanthropists, business owners, law enforcement leaders, and prominent members of the academic community who all share the same mission of helping those addicted to drugs in their area get the help they desperately need. PAARI coordinates with volunteers, corporate partners and treatment centers, along with police helping addicts into treatment.
The first annual report for the PAARI made a very exciting statement, saying:
“Communities that have joined PAARI have observed as much as a 25% reduction in crimes associated with addiction, cost savings by diverting people into treatment rather than triggering the criminal justice system, as well as an enormous increase in trust from their communities.”
Participants in the program speak in overwhelming praise of the PAARI program’s methods.
More Compassion Changing the World
While some people are still pushing the argument that ‘tough on crime’ and the War on Drugs are the best way to end the addiction issue, we have seen time and time again that we cannot punish and imprison our way out of addiction. Compassionate programs using community resources to help people get better instead of making their lives worse seems like a better way of taking care of each other.
We are happy to see so many police helping addicts into treatment all over the country, and we hope more communities chose to use resources to help those struggling find a chance to change their lives.
Palm Healthcare Company knows that compassion is a key element of comprehensive and effective care for substance abuse and addiction treatment. Our hope is that more community leaders, politicians and law enforcement officials continue working together to make everyone’s lives better. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Opioid and heroin addiction is without a doubt one of the most unrelenting public health issues we as a country are facing today. Overdose death rates continue to risk to staggering heights, while politicians, community leaders and organizations all over America are working to find a way out. One of the companies that produces the lifesaving opioid overdose antidote Narcan is talking about their efforts to develop an opioid vaccine.
This isn’t the first time there has been a conversation about possible opioid vaccines. Naltrexone, also known by the brand name Vivitrol, was initially used for combatting alcohol dependence before being utilized in attempt to combat opioid abuse.
A while back in 2015 Kim Janda, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute created a compound he believed could ultimately be used as a heroin vaccine. Since then the research team has made some impressive strides in achieving their goal. The experts from the Virginia Commonwealth University and the Scripps Research Center discovered that the vaccine, which was the first of its kind to reach this phase of preclinical testing, was effective on rhesus macaques, a species of monkeys. This vaccine generates antibodies that neutralize heroin’s psychoactive metabolite and prevents it from acting on the opioid receptors in the brain.
So will this new opioid vaccine be the real deal?
Opioid Vaccine from Walter Reed
On a FOX News segment this past Wednesday, Dr. Mark Siegel, spoke about a new compound coming from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA. Dr. Siegel said he was happy to hear it was coming from Walter Reed because of the large issue with opioid drug use among veterans. According to Siegel:
“It uses antibodies to attack heroin or Percocet, or Vicodin; anything like that that’s an opioid, literally you make antibodies. So if it’s in your bloodstream it can’t get to the brain. It doesn’t cause you to stop breathing so you don’t overdose and you don’t have the euphoric feeling.”
According to the interview with Siegel, someone would hypothetically be able to go to a doctor, get inoculated and the opioid vaccine would create antibodies to block the effects of heroin and other opioids.
Dr. Siegel did say that it may end up being a substance that has to be administered periodically. He states human trials with the opioid vaccine have apparently only just started, but animal trials thus far seem to have been very promising.
Dr. Siegel goes on to say that once the opioid vaccine has been administered, the possibility is one could potentially be prescribed another opioid maintenance drug like Suboxone in order to taper off of opioids while not being able to feel the effects of opioids.
Dr. Siegel admits that there is still a lot of testing that needs to be done before the drug can be approved by the FDA, but he believes if the opioid vaccine is successful it could change the entire epidemic.
Opiant Jumps on Opioid Vaccine
A Big Pharma company known for their opioid overdose antidote announced back in late 2016 that they had acquired exclusive development and commercialization rights to the pre-clinical heroin vaccine. CEO of Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Roger Crystal, said in a recent statement:
“Aggressively addressing heroin addiction is part of Opiant’s mission… This vaccine fits our plan to develop innovative treatments for this condition. The vaccine has promising preclinical data.”
The Opiant Pharmaceuticals aspiration is also to create a compound that blocks the effects of opioid drugs like heroin. Dr. Crystal also said that they would like to develop their own version of the Naltrexone implant as a long-term opioid blocker.
Opiant also says that if further preclinical testing of the opioid vaccine is successful, the company plans to team up with WRAIR researchers in the U.S. Military HIV Research Program to eventually combine the HIV vaccine with the potential heroin vaccine, making a huge leap in the direction of fighting back against two of the biggest issues concerning the opioid epidemic.
Would Opioid Vaccine Work?
The bigger question we keep having to ask when talking about the concept of an opioid vaccine- will it work? Not saying that the vaccine won’t be effective at blocking the brains opioid receptors, but is this an effective strategy to combatting addiction?
One question I would think to ask is will addicts who are trying to overpower the vaccine end up taking even more of the drugs until they suffer other severe health complications. Is blocking the opioid receptors a comprehensive way of protecting people from overdosing on opioids? Which opioids would still be extremely dangerous? Will this work on drugs like fentanyl or carfentanil?
Beyond that, the question also becomes- will addicts quit, or will they use something else? If many can substitute their addiction with another substance, will a opioid vaccine make other drugs more popular?
Only more time and more research will show us how effective the new opioid vaccine could be to helping end the opioid epidemic in America. Right now with statistics being as serious as they are, any avenue that has real potential to save lives should be pursued.
Then I have to ask- with many Big Pharma companies that make Narcan and other opioid antidotes jacking up their prices, will Opiant and other vaccine makers use the miracle drug to exploit the desperation of the epidemic with intense prices?
There is no miracle cure for opioid or heroin addiction yet, but it seems many have not given up hope of finding one. What we do have today is safe and effective treatment options that offer unique opportunities to change your life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398