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A monthly shot shows promise for breaking the cycle of addiction to heroin and other opioids, like the pharmaceutical painkillers oxycodone and Vicodin, by stopping cravings by dulling the drug’s euphoric effects.

A program in Washington County, Maryland, is administering Vivitrol to addicts after they go through detox in jail. Unlike other anti-addiction drugs for opiates, Vivitrol can be taken just once a month, instead of daily, making it easier for people to stick with a program.Portugal-Vila_Nova_de_Gaia-CC-Jonik

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Users have to wait a week after last getting high before safely using Vivitrol, which makes it more difficult, at first. But once the incarcerated patients start taking monthly shots, they also receive counseling and group therapy to further support their recovery.

Vivitrol, a new form of an old drug — naltrexone, affects receptors in the brain by turning off the pleasure centers that would normally be stimulated by the opiates, thereby curbing cravings. The non habit-forming drug is also used for treating alcoholism.heroin crime rehab story gloucester-police-department photo permission

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Washington County’s health department launched the treatment program after cases of heroin addiction skyrocketed. The results have proven so successful that other Maryland counties are setting up similar treatment programs using the shots.

(READ more at NPR News) — Photo: Portland Prevention

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