New treatment explored to combat opiate addiction

Apr 25, 2016

With the rising death toll from drug overdoses, researchers and doctors are looking for different ways to get people to kick the drug habit. Some are reporting short-term success with a new drug treatment that is blocking the high of drugs like heroin.

Dr. Torin Finver has been researching ways to ease opiate addiction.
Credit UB Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

It's called Vivitrol, an injection carrying an extended release of a drug called naltrexone. The key issue is that it's good for about a month, far different from a drug like methadone which requires a daily dose.

Doctor Torin Finver says that daily visit gives treatment people a chance to see how a patient is doing. He's a family practice doctor and clinical instructor specializing in addiction. Doctor Finver says after about six-months some people stop getting the shots and they fall back into drugs.

"Addiction is a chronic, life long disease that has both relapses and remission and that medication in an appropriate setting is very useful at preventing relapse back to the dependency in an opiate addict," Finver said. 

"But like any chronic disease when you stop an effective treatment, the tendency is for the disease to come back."

There's a new study looking into people who have stayed with the shots for at least a year. Doctor Finver says Vivitrol isn't a silver bullet but it does seem to work better than just counselling or some other drugs which also block the effects of opioids.