A drug called Vivitrol can revolutionize the treatment of heroin and prescription opioid abuse, says the Washington Post. The abuse of opiods has risen across the U.S.; in the Washington, D.C. area, about 28,000 people reported opioid drug dependence from 2011 to 2013, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, triple the number from 2008 to 2010. Unlike opioids such as methadone, which produce a limited buzz to control cravings, Vivitrol dulls the brain's receptors so users don't feel cravings and won't get a high even if they take opioids. Vivitrol is not a controlled substance; it cannot be abused and there is no illegal market for it.
Vivitrol is a new form of an old drug — naltrexone — that was developed in daily pill form in the 1970s and never caught on. It wasn't until researchers created an injectable, long-acting version that studies showed the drug's promise. “It was just like, 'Wow, this medication is a magic bullet for treating opiate dependents,' ” said Sandra Comer, a neurobiology professor at Columbia University. Taking a monthly shot can be a godsend for addicts who find it difficult to wrestle daily with the decision to swallow a pill to stay clean.