BY EDEN LAIKIN
A study of 250 Heroin or Opiate – addicted people in Russia, found that nearly 70% of those studied, had successfully stopped using drugs, and, lost the desire for them – with the help of a medication called Vivitrol.
That study led to FDA approval of Vivitrol as a medication to treat Opioid dependence, and, prevent relapse.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, on Wednesday, was joined by his wife, Linda – a drug prevention advocate – to announce the launch of Nassau’s new Vivitrol program – “A Shot at Life” Pathway to Recovery.
The County will require that the monthly injection of the extended-release Vivitrol – Nassau’s latest weapon to combat the Heroin epidemic – be accompanied by weekly individual and group counseling sessions, County Executive Mangano said.
Yesterday’s announcement, at an emotional press conference featuring parents who lost children to addiction and young people now in recovery with Vivitrol – made Nassau County the first County in NYS to offer this comprehensive approach to Opiate Treatment and Recovery.
Unlike other long-used medication-assisted treatment “daily” programs, Vivitrol is non-addictive, can’t be abused and has been shown to prevent relapse and decrease recidivism and incarceration.
Nassau’s Vivitrol program has already begun to be offered as a 3rd potential treatment track for Opioid-dependent individuals, on an outpatient basis, at the County’s Opioid Treatment Program in Building K of Nassau University Medical Center.
If someone would like to be screened for possible admission into the County’s “Shot at Life” program, in an outpatient treatment setting, can call the clinic’s intake number at 572-5801.
The initial participants in the County’s Vivitrol program were referred by the inpatient addiction rehabilitation unit at Nassau University Medical Center, the County’s partner in this program. Those participants will continue their care either at NUMC’s newly opened “naltrexone injection clinic” in the hospital’s J-Bldg; or, at the County’s treatment clinic in Building K.
Currently, the J Clinic at NUMC is only for patients started on naltrexone during their inpatient stay on the addiction rehab unit, and then discharged to outpatient continuing care programs which do not offer naltrexone.
If an individual wishes to be screened for admission to the NUMC addiction rehab unit may call the unit’s intake number at 572-9402. Those who are actively addicted may need to be admitted first to the detox unit, and then transferred to the rehab unit, where they will be evaluated for the Vivitrol injections. The detox screening number is 572-6740.
For more information on Nassau’s newly announced Shot at Life – Pathway to Recovery program, call its 24/7 Substance Abuse and Mental Health information and referral line, at 227-TALK (that’s 227-8255).
County Executive Mangano said the new program has the potential not only to save lives, but also dollars, by decreasing recidivism, incarceration and costly emergency room visits.
Vivitrol caps the Opiate receptors in the brain, blocking the drug’s euphoric effects thereby preventing relapse.
“My administration has combated heroin and opioid abuse through a comprehensive strategy that includes enhanced enforcement, education and awareness,” said County Executive Mangano. “Nassau County is now offering those battling addiction ‘A Shot at Life’ and freedom from narcotics. Vivitrol must be paired with counseling to achieve the very best rate of total drug free independence and recovery. The medication offers the brain time to heal, allowing in the message of recovery.”
To be eligible for Vivitrol, individuals must be detoxified and Opioid-free for 7-10 days.
Vivitrol is covered by most major insurance companies; Medicare, including Part D; and Medicaid, including Medicaid Managed Care.
And, Vivitrol manufacturer Alkermes, Inc, offers up to $500 to cover an individual’s co-pay or toward the cost of the shot for those without insurance or who are “Medicaid pending.” There is no income limit to be eligible for the discount program.
Statistics indicate that 51 people died of heroin overdoses in 2014 and another 123 people died of prescription drug overdoses. There were 15 Opioid overdose deaths just in January, of 2015, according to the Nassau County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Drug abuse involving prescription medicines also accounted for 1.3 million emergency room visits in 2010, with 1.2 million visits for illegal drugs, according to the federal Drug Abuse Warning Network.
“Addiction is not only deadly, it’s also a costly national problem,” County Executive Mangano said.
Since taking office in 2010, the Mangano administration has battled prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic, by providing drug abuse prevention initiatives in schools and training more than 3,500 ordinary citizens on how to recognize an Opioid overdose and reverse its affects by administering Narcan, to give people a second chance at recovery. In October 2014, County Executive Mangano, in conjunction with the Long Island Crisis Center, launched a new 24 hour a day, seven day a week Mental Health Substance Abuse information and referral Helpline, (516) 227-TALK. All calls are confidential.
Studies show that a very small percentage of those addicted, ever get treatment.
In fact, in the first three quarters of 2013, for example, 4,409 individuals sought detox services in Nassau County’s one and only inpatient facility at NUMC; Of those, just 1,157 were admitted; 3,252 were turned away – many for denial of insurance coverage.
Last week, County Executive Mangano successfully advocated for $381,000 in state funding, earmarked to open several outpatient detoxification centers in the County, to help those addicted, get on to the Vivitrol program.