Court Seeks to Fight Heroin Needles With Treatment Needles

Judge Robert Warren Seeks to Fight Heroin Needles With Treatment NeedlesCourts are seeking to combat the rising number of drug related deaths by fighting heroin needles with treatment needles. Warren County Judge Robert Peeler began researching the use of Vivitrol injections after the drug related death of a third person who had been in his courtroom. Vivitrol was federally approved less than four years ago but has caught the attention of correction officials and judges in at least 21 states.

Vivitrol shots allow newly released defendants time to begin post-release counseling without giving into old urges by blocking opiate effects. Relief from these injections are said to last for a month. This drug is increasingly being tried by jails, prisons and courts across the United States to help repeat heroin abusers. Reportedly, the injections offer a long-lasting treatment option which addresses the everyday struggle of recovering addicts.

As with any drug Vivitrol has its skeptics. These injections can be quite expensive with shots costing nearly $1,000 each. Doubters are questioning whether the drug is effective enough to justify the expense and time. Peeler believes the increased number of heroin-related deaths, repeat offenders and abusers make it worth trying.

I want to stop people from dying; to sit back and do what we have been doing just is not going to get it.

Heroin, an opioid drug synthesized from morphine, is one of the more dangerous substances world-wide. It is highly addictive and has damaging effects on the human body and brain. The addictive power of heroin is what makes the drug so deadly. It takes just one use for an individual to develop a chemical and physiological dependence.

Heroin, an opioid drug synthesized from morphine, is one of the more dangerous substances world-wide. It is highlyCourts Seeks to Fight Heroin Needles With Treatment Needles - small addictive and has damaging effects on the human body and brain. The addictive power of heroin is what makes the drug so deadly. It takes just one use for an individual to develop a chemical and physiological dependence.

Heroin addiction starts when the user takes their first dose of this lethal drug. The initial rush of euphoria is produced by a flood of powerful opiates being sent to the brain which raise the bar for feeling good. This puts the roller coaster in motion and sets their course for long term addiction. The brain then starts to demand the extra opiates in order to send the message to the body that “everything is fine.” When the brain does not get the extra boost it shifts into panic mode and dictates to the body that more opiates are necessary in order to feel normal or for everything to be “considered” fine.

In other words, heroin addiction literally changes the brain. Each person has a certain level of dopamine that is produced on a regular basis and slowly released to their brain causing them to feel normal throughout the day. Once an addict starts using heroin every day a message is sent to the brain telling it that there is no need to produce any dopamine naturally.

Overtime if the heroin addict continues using, they unknowingly retrain their own body to stop the natural production of dopamine. The drug is so lethal that most addicts never make it to the point where their body ceases totally to produce natural dopamine. However the reduction in production and the increase in desire becomes a dangerous mix for the user who is trying to find normalcy thus causing continued use to become a basic form of survival.

The power of this deadly drug is what prompted Peeler to tell the twice-arrested heroin user, Cynthia Fugate, “You are not a criminal, you are an addict. Something beyond your control is driving you to use heroin.” When asked if his assessment was correct Fugate replied, “Yes, Sir.” She then explained that she is 30-years-old and has overdosed four times. She continued, “I want to be clean, I really do.”

Courts Seeks to Fight Heroin Needles With Treatment Needles - vivitrolPeeler said Vivitrol can keep Fugate from ending up in a body bag. The program in Warren County is receiving nearly $800,000 in state funding to help for Vivitrol. Programs are also underway in at least 21 other states. The programs are usually funded with grants, drug maker discounts and/or donations and insurance will usually cover some shots.

Vivitrol has been successful for years treating alcoholism. In 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it after a Russian study showed it could also be effective for users of heroin and other opiate drugs with once-a-month injections. The drug, made by Alkermes PLC of Ireland, uses naltrexone to block heroin’s effects on the brain. Advocates say it eases the daily temptation for people struggling to stay off heroin.

Criminal justice officials are seeking to combat the rising number of drug related deaths by fighting heroin needles with treatment needles. Vivitrol was federally approved less than four years ago but has caught the attention of correction officials and judges in 21 states. Warren County Judge Robert Peeler believes it could be the difference between life and death for criminal abusers.

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

Sources:

Fox News
ABQ Journal
Heroin.net

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