By JEFF McCOY
SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — One of the first things that Del. Riley Moore, R-Jefferson, did after his election was work with the Jefferson Day Report Center and Alkermes plc, the manufacturer of the anti-opioid drug Vivitrol, to make Jefferson County one of only five West Virginia counties to be selected for a pilot program to administer Vivitrol as part of the county’s correctional recovery program.
According to Alkermes, Vivitrol is the first and only non-addictive, once-monthly medication that, when combined with counseling, is proven to help prevent relapse to opioid dependence after detox. Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors in the brain while a patient works with the psychological aspects of counseling.
“After I got elected, one of the first people I went and saw was (Executive Director) Ronda Eddy at the Jefferson Day Report Center,”Moore said. “I wanted to talk to her about this. She also saw it as a potential game changer.”
Eddy was in a position with the Jefferson Day Report Center to provide a means for administering the drug to patients.
“We are grateful to Delegate Moore for his ability to build partnerships that make treatment options like Vivitrol available to those that are battling heroin addiction,” Eddy said.
The Jefferson Day Report Center offers help in multiple ways.
“The risk of a fatal overdose is highest for untreated inmates in the first two weeks of release from jail. If they don’t die of an overdose, they often reoffend for drug-related crimes,” Eddy said. “Addiction medications, like Vivitrol, have shown to be far more effective at helping people stop their drug use than counseling and group therapy programs that do not include medication.”
Moore has spent time with the people he represents and said he understands their concerns about the heroin problem.
“We’re in the direct firing line first and foremost with stuff coming in from Baltimore, so I’m really glad that we are going to be one of the first counties in this pilot program,” Moore said. “It has a negative effect on society in general. It’s bad for our community.”
Vivitrol is not a lifelong drug that replaces a different drug.
“The typical treatment plan is around a year,” Eddy said.
All treatment plans are tailored to the patient, according to Eddy.
“It depends on their treatment plan and how well they progress with their treatment,” Eddy said. “Some people come in every day and some people we see every other week and some people we see once a month, so it just depends on where they are in their recovery.”
The pilot program is unique.
“It’s the first time that they administered it upon release from the regional jail. This is the drug of choice in corrections now. It starts at the federal level. Federal inmates are now being released on Vivitrol. The State Department of Corrections is now offering Vivitrol upon release,” Eddy said. “I wanted to bring it down to the county level, and that’s where Delegate Moore came in and brought all the people together so that we could get a plan. They selected our county, Jefferson County, for that because they knew we had the ability to continue their Vivitrol treatments after release from jail. It’s low risk. It’s not a narcotic, it’s not a controlled substance.”
Moore said he’s hopeful for the new treatment.
“I feel like this is going to give people the best chance to get their lives back after making a mistake driven by the addiction they are caught in and struggling with,” Moore said.
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