Monthly injections to block high from opioids could be game-chan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Monthly injections to block high from opioids could be game-changer in fight against heroin

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –- It's a story that is told over and over again: heroin destroying the lives of countless individuals and families across the country.

But a new, one-of-kind clinic at Our Lady of Peace in Louisville could turn the epidemic on its head.

“We have a shot that gives them 30 days of sobriety,” pharmacist Steve Cummings said.

That shot is called Vivitrol.

Cummings manages the long-acting injectable antipsychotic (LAIA) clinic at the hospital. He says the shot hits on the receptors that make people high from alcohol and opioids like heroin. 

“You can take this product, get the shot, you can go ahead and drink and take your opiates, but you're not going to get high,” he said.

The thinking is if you're not getting high, you'll stop using and abusing.

Unlike other treatment drugs like suboxone or methadone, Cummings says Vivitrol does not have the potential to be abused, because you can't get high from it.

“It simply takes away the euphoria of a high,” Cummings said.

But if you do use drugs or alcohol while having the monthly injection, patients will still feel the negative effects, including a hangover.

“You can still get blurred vision. You can still get slurred speech. You can get a DUI,” Cummings said. “But you're still not going to get high.”

Keeping patients sober for 30 days gives behavioral health workers a chance to really change lives. But first, patients must be screened, get a prescription and detox before starting the program.

Cummings says Vivitrol has been around for a few years but wasn't accessible because one shot costs $1,200. Our Lady of Peace is now working with doctors, insurance companies and drug companies to get the best price possible.

“That's the whole idea: make it more accessible to patients so they can beat their addictions,” Cummings said.

The goal is to break the addiction within one year of receiving the monthly injections.

The clinic also helps patients who suffer from schizoaffective disorders who are not compliant with their medication therapy. Monthly injections relieve these patients from having to remember to take a daily pill.  

Immunizations are also offered at the clinic.

The injection clinic at Our Lady of Peace is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 502-479-4445.

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