Dr. Richard DiMonte, an addiction-treatment specialist in Media, Pa., uses a non-narcotic called Vivitrol that has helped hundreds of patients reclaim their lives from prescription painkillers and heroin, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. It’s a monthly injection of naltrexone that binds to human opioid receptors and blocks the drugs’ euphoric effects, so addicts can’t get high even if they want to. Doctors and researchers hate the term “miracle drug.” but former heroin user Nicole Kapulsky, 35, says that’s the best way to describe her experience.
Vivitrol was approved in 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration. Experts say it could be a game-changer in combating the increasing abuse of oxycodone and other prescription painkillers, which doctors and law-enforcement officials say is helping to create a new category of heroin addicts. “We have a prescription-drug problem, and it’s just getting out of control,” DiMonte said. “Most of the heroin use nowadays is because people can’t afford the prescription pills they’re buying, so they convert over to heroin, which is cheaper.” In 2010, about 12 million Americans reported that they’d used prescription painkillers for nonmedical purposes in the past year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.