A voluntary, pilot program addressing heroin and other opiate addiction in Winnebago County is showing promising results, officials say.
The medication-assisted therapy program, which is part of the Winnebago County Adult Drug Court, gives eligible defendants the option to receive Vivitrol, a medication to reduce cravings and block the effects of opiates. The medication is given in addition to other requirements of the Drug Court, including substance abuse outpatient treatment services at Rosecrance and case management by Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC).
So far, the program has 18 participants and officials say those individuals have seen a marked improvement in progress since the program's implementation in January. It's sponsored by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
"Studies have shown Vivitrol to be successful in treating opiate addiction. However, it is a very expensive medication, especially for those without insurance coverage," IDHS Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Director Theodora Binion explained. "IDHS funding for this pilot program will provide greater access to this medication, which holds promise in averting costs associated with multiple admissions to costly acute care hospital detox programs."
Participants complete their opiate withdrawal while in jail and receive an injection of Vivitrol prior to their release. They then attend counseling and meetings, receiving monthly injections of the drug as long as clinically appropriate. Vivitrol is an extended release injection of naltrexone, which prevents relapse to opioid dependence after detoxification. It's not a substitute for the drug and blocks opioids. It's non-narcotic and non-addictive.
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