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24.10.2019

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More opioid addicts turning to Vivitrol to come clean, rebuild their lives. According to the drug’s Ireland-based manufacturer, Alkermes, the number of people nationally using the drug has more than tripled over the past four years, to 111,500 in 2018.

An injectable medicine that helps people addicted to opioids get clean is gaining in popularity as an alternative to methadone, and Long Islanders who used it say it stopped their opioid cravings and allowed them to rebuild their lives.

Addiction specialists say the medication, Vivitrol, is eective for some people in recovery when combined with counseling — but they warn it is not for everyone. Methadone or a third anti-opioid-addiction medication, buprenorphine, may be better for others, said Jerey Steigman, chief administrative officer of the Huntington-based Family Service League, which offers addiction treatment.

“The more options available, the better,” he said. “Any way to reduce the barriers and to be able to provide access to these lifesaving medications is going to help with the outcomes and really save lives.”

Nationally, the number of people receiving Vivitrol more than tripled over the past four years, from 36,600 in 2014 to 111,500 in 2018, according to data from the drug’s Ireland-based manufacturer, Alkermes.

The rise of Vivitrol, brand name for an injectable version of the drug naltrexone that received federal approval to treat opioid addiction in 2010, occurs amid an

epidemic that has killed more than 3,700 Long Islanders since 2010.A report released March 20 by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine says naltrexone, methadone and buprenorphine can “save lives.” Yet, the report says, only a fraction of the more than 2 million Americans with opioid-use disorder receive medication for it. Dr. Paula Young, medical director of Nassau County’s opioid treatment program, said having three medications “opens up a wider range of people you’re going to reach in treatment …. What’s effective for one person may not be eective for another.”

One reason some have resisted methadone and buprenorphine — often sold under the brand name Suboxone — is that, unlike Vivitrol, they are opioid-based.

Self-help groups Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous — despite the name, many people with opioid addictions attend AA meetings — traditionally have shunned any medication-based treatments for addiction, believing that taking them means “I’m still using,” said Robert Savino, clinical director of the addictions program for South Shore Child Guidance Center in Freeport, which treats adults and teenagers for opioid addiction.