Heroin fighting medicine can keep addicts from getting high

News
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – It`s a shot that stops heroin in its tracks. The way it works may sound unbelievable. It’s a medicine that keeps the drug users mind from being altered. Even many users don`t believe it.

Brittney Gilliam laughed when she said, ‘Yeah, I remember someone telling my about it and that it was a blocker and I`m like right there is no such thing. It`s not even possible.’

The medicine is called Vivitrol.  It`s a monthly shot that costs more than a thousand dollars a pop.  It acts as a blocker inside your brain, to keep you from getting buzzed on alcohol and heroin.

Gilliam said, ‘I feel like it just flipped the switch in my brain.’

Tattoos now mark her journey.  She says she`s now four years clean from heroin.  When she first started the shot, she was so skeptical that she tested it.  She said, ‘I got some heroin and I said, I`m going to see if this really works you know. So I bought about 50 bucks worth and I shot up and nothing, but I looked in the mirror and my eyes changed.  I didn`t feel anything so I said oh well that just wasn`t enough you know.  So I went back and bought $50 more and I didn`t feel it then and I thought oh God, I better stop because I had heard of people overdosing even though it`s a blocker.’

That’s when Gillian said she stopped using heroin for good.  Her nurse at the Center for Life Solutions says she warns every patient starting Vivitrol, heroin won’t get them high, but it could still kill them.

Nurse Andrue Watt said, ‘You just don`t feel the euphoric feeling, but it`s still in your body.  So it can still slow down your respirations.  You can still overdose.’

For Brittney, that failure to get high gave her the focus to work through her addiction.

Nurse Watt added, ‘Brittney lets you know there`s hope.’

The City of St. Louis, through its drug court, is giving users the shot for free.

Commissioner James Sullivan said, ‘We are on a cutting edge, but this is just the beginning.’

Sullivan told us the courts began working with Vivitrol several years ago after a defendant turned up dead.  He said, ‘Four days after her confinement, her body was found in a dumpster in south St. Louis she died of a heroin overdose and she made a bond and so we tried to figure out what we could do, if this person had been in drug court.  She was not in drug court, but if she had been in drug court, what could we have possibly done to assist.’

He says he`s heard users describe Vivitrol wiping away thoughts of heroin and stopping cravings that hit some users when they sleep.  Sullivan said, ‘So the intensity of those dreams are actually reduced based on what I`ve been told.’

Vivitrol is similar to the medicine Narcan, which is used to wake heroin users who are in respiratory failure.  Narcan knocks the opiates out of the receptors in a user`s brain.  Vivitrol blocks the receptors.  The toughest part for some users who want to try it is that they have to be clean for at least one week before they can get their first Vivitrol shot.  Gilliam explained, ‘It was not fun, but I knew that there was a brighter side. That there was something else better that was going to make feel better.’

Most health insurance companies cover Vivitrol.  In the St. Louis City drug court program, the manufacturer picks up the cost of shots and the entire State of Missouri has bought into the effectiveness of the medicine.  The MO Medicaid co-pay for the thousand dollar shot is $2.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News