Shot that can keep addicts off opioids, alcohol gives way to new concerns

For 28 days, a shot called Vivitrol can prevent alcoholics or opioid addicts from having those powerful cravings.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - There's a shot that can reverse cravings for alcohol and opiates in addicts, and even if they relapse they won't feel the high during the 28-day period after receiving the dose. 

Vivitrol is readily available in offices throughout West Michigan, but Dr. Sandra Dettmann, of the Dettmann Center, wants to remind addicts that this shot is not a cure all. 

It is a step in the right direction of recovery, but Dr. Dettmann said that those who rely solely on the shot can end up at high risk for overdosing as soon as they stop receiving it regularly. 

"Vivitrol takes away those cravings so they can focus on recovering...but it's not the cure," Dr. Dettmann said. 

The cure, Dettmann says, comes from psychosocial interventions like 12-step treatment plans and therapy. 

Dr. Dettmann runs a two-person office in Grand Rapids. She said she gives her cell phone number to potential patients, and tries to see those who call her within the week, if not the day she hears from them.

"When an addict decides to get help, there's a very narrow window of opportunity," said Dettmann. 

Dettmann said Vivitrol, created by a company called Alkermes, is very effective at curbing the cravings and it is nonaddictive. The shot runs about $1,300 per dose, but it is covered in full by Medicaid and most commercial insurance companies. 

But those who wish to receive the shot have to be clean of opiates for 7 to 10 days leading up to receiving the medication. Dettmann said she provides medication to help her patients with the withdrawals they feel during that time period leading up to the shot. 

Once a patient receives the shot, Dettmann requires weekly meetings for the first month.

Dettmann also stressed that every home should have an "OD Kit." These are free and available at places like the Grand Rapids Red Project

Dr. Sandra Dettmann can be reached at 616-350-3230. The State of Michigan's Addiction Help Hotline can be reached at 1-800-834-3393. 

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