BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The number of people hooked on heroin or other prescription opioids has skyrocketed, but there are some finding relief in another prescription drug.
Stephen says opiods found him by accident. “I had a fractured jaw which started me on the pain pills and at that point I just continued to take them,” he said. “Obviously it took off from there.”
He says if a pill had opiates in it, he bought, sold, and took them.
“It got to the point where I was selling to support my habit. Then you get to the point where you can’t find anything or can’t afford it so you switch to heroin. It’s a lot cheaper, actually more readily available,” he added.
Once heroin became his main drug, he began to overdose.
“I can’t count the number of times I’ve overdosed. It got to the point where I overdosed, they hit me with NARCAN four times to bring me back,” Stephen said.
After the last one – five months ago – his family intervened and got him in to see Sykesville addiction nurse Debra Woodard.
“People don’t have to stay in the addiction, there’s help,” she says.
A recent map produced by the Centers for Disease Control shows the number of people addicted and dying from opioid addiction in Maryland is among the highest anywhere.
Woodard prescribes Vivitrol, which blocks the high, but is not addictive.
“It’s like a little umbrella over the opioid receptors in the brain, and it doesn’t allow the opioid to get into the brain,” she said.
She put patient Stephen on Vivitrol, and it worked.
“The Vivitrol makes me feel like a human being,” he said. “I don’t have any cravings. It makes you feel normal.”
With his cravings gone, he’s had time to think, which is exactly what his nurse hoped would happen.
“That 30-day clean time, almost guaranteed, gives people time to think about, do I really want to go back and start using drugs again?.” Woodard said.
Stephen did not, and he’s been clean for five months.
He’s reengaged with family and friends, has a full-time job, and has saved enough to buy a car to get to work.
“You’ve heard some of my story, I’ve gone to Hell and back multiple times and I can do it, it’s definitely possible,” Stephen said.