In an attempt to fight back against an uptick in heroin overdoses, some judges across the United States are turning to a drug called Vivitrol, an opiate-blocker that could, as one judge said, keep users from "winding up in a body bag."
Deaths caused by heroin overdoses rose 45 percent between 2006 to 2010, The Associated Press reports, and in Ohio, 680 people died from overdoses in 2012, up 60 percent from 2011. Judge Robert Peeler in Lebanon, Ohio, discovered Vivitrol when trying to find a way to help the heroin users who came to his courtroom. Now, he will order shots, but only for those who want them. "To sit back and keep doing what we've been doing just isn't going to get it," he told the AP. "I want to stop people from dying."
Vivitrol has naltrexone in it, which blocks the effects of heroin on the brain. Shots are close to $1,000 each, and are given once a month. Unlike methadone, users do not have to visit a clinic or take a daily dose.
While many are skeptical of Vivitrol — "it's not a wonder drug" one doctor told the AP — some of the former heroin users who have taken it say their lives were changed. After going through treatment multiple times, Sherry Moore decided to try Vivitrol. She also went to counseling and returned to church, and she has been free from drugs since late 2012. If she hadn't gone down that path, Moore said, "I think I would have died."