Opioid implant could be a game changer in fighting the heroin crisis

Opioid implant could be a game changer in fighting the heroin crisis

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - It could be a breakthrough for people addicted to heroin or other opiates.

And for six months, they wouldn't have to take any pills to break their addiction.

Doctors prescribe medication to help wean an addict off of heroin or painkillers and we're learning more about a new way to do it.

With the heroin crisis continuing to worsen in Ohio, treatment centers like A Renewed Mind are making sure their doctors are getting up to speed on Probuphine.

Right now, an addict would have to take pills or a strip that dissolves under the tongue to get a mild opiate that weans them off their drug abuse.

But Probuphine is an implant that is placed by a doctor under the skin in the arm.

It binds more tightly to receptors in the brain, stopping heroin from attaching and providing a dangerous "high."

"They have a steady stream of medication. They can't stop the medication, start the medication, it's in their system so it slowly is being dispersed," said Julie Weinandy, the Vice President of Medical Services with the treatment center, A Renewed Mind.

The implant provides medicine for six months, meaning addicts won't have to see their doctor every 30 days to get their prescription renewed.

Weinandy said the implant also can't be stolen and is never within
reach of children.

"It is a solution. I don't think anything is the perfect solution," Weinandy said. "At our agency we really try to get every tool we possibly can to help our clients."

But Weinandy says the implant has its limitations.

It can only be inserted by a trained doctor and won't work for every addict.

"Then there are some that might not be motivated to return to counseling as frequently as we would like. So whether it's intensive outpatients groups or individual counseling or just group counselors," Weinandy said.

It is unclear if Probuphine is widely available yet in Northwest Ohio.

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