New treatment option may reduce relapses among opioid addicts

By Staff Writer

Along with substance abuse treatment, certain medications may significantly increase an individual’s ability to eliminate their addiction. The FDA recently approved one new drug, which officials believe will help decrease the chances of relapse in opioid addicts.

Vivitrol was approved following six months of clinical trials in which the medication was shown to be significantly more effective than placebo at reducing cravings for opioids in individuals who have completed detoxification and are no longer physically dependent on drugs. A total of 36 percent of participants who were prescribed the medication stayed in treatment for six months, compared to 23 percent of those who were given placebo.

The medication works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain. This may help to reduce cravings that often become associated with particular places or rituals in the minds of morphine, heroin and prescription painkiller addicts.

FDA official have high hopes for the drug. Janet Woodcock, director of the agency’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said Vivitrol could represent a significant advancement in addiction treatment. Given the serious problems posed by drug addiction, she said this type of medication is needed.