Small Pharmacy Tackles Heroin Epidemic: Let’s Follow Their Lead

These are aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and mothers who are dying everyday with rubber bands taut around their arms and needle-pierced veins. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, over 20,000 people have died in the last year by way of a needle in their arm.

The heroin crisis is a deadly epidemic, but one pharmaceutical company may have the solution. Jungle Jim’s Pharmacy has recently joined the fight against heroin in Fairfield, Ohio, by introducing a new drug to aid those addicted to heroin on the path to becoming sober.

The drug is known as Vivitrol. “A person gets the injection once a month and it stops cravings and blocks the body’s opioid receptors, so even if users try to get high they don’t feel it,” said the Director of Addiction Services of Jungle Jim’s pharmacy in an interview with Ohio’s WCPO news channel. While most states are talking about the positive effects of Narcan, a life saving nasal spray that can momentarily reverse the effects of opioid overdose, the public is not familiar with Vivitrol. Where Narcan reverses an overdose, Vivitrol can prevent the person from wanting to use the drug in the first place. It’s ideal help for someone who would like to end their addiction but feels held hostage by the drug.

In Ohio, Vivitrol is being handed out in the form of a “comfort pack” to the public that is covered under insurance. However, if you are not insured you will not be turned away. Vivitrol is fast-acting and non-addictive. It creates a more long-term road to recovery as opposed to a quick, momentary fix.

Statistics on the news prove that heroin sales are rising. Alongside that, death tolls are, too. This problem has proven to be long-term, warranting a long-term road to recovery. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Health made it known that unintentional opioid death in Massachusetts has spiked 63 percent since 2012; until then it had remained stagnant. It has not been made public that those addicted to heroin want to stop using the drug. However, they need to be provided with the correct tools in order to do so.

Addiction is a disease. Massachusetts’ pharmacies should try providing Vivitrol to those with an addiction who are requesting help, alongside information regarding affordable drug counseling in the area. The numbers of refills of the drug have increased in Ohio. If it did not work, and does not provide a high, why would they want it? They want it because it’s working. If it’s working for one part of the United States why can't it work for other parts?

The heroin battle needs a long-term solution, not a short-term fix. Narcan can continue to be used to save other people's lives while Vivitrol can be provided to those who are ready to change their own.