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An injectable medication for patients recovering from opioid addiction helps them get their lives back on track.
Addiction is a major health concern in the Commonwealth, and that’s particularly true of the use and abuse of prescription opioid medications and their illegal cousin, heroin. Drug overdose claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Kentucky residents in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No single treatment or program can solve the opioid epidemic, but the Long-Acting Injection (LAI) Clinic — a new service at Louisville behavioral health hospital Our Lady of Peace, part of KentuckyOne Health — plays an important role in recovery for many patients struggling with opioid addiction.
Since the LAI Clinic opened its doors in February, the clinic’s providers have been focused on providing monthly injections of the drug naltrexone to individuals who have completed the detoxification process for opioid addiction. The long-acting injectable form of naltrexone is called VIVITROL®.
“VIVITROL blocks the chemical receptor responsible for the euphoria patients experience from taking prescription opioids or heroin,” said Steve Cummings, PharmD, pharmacy and LAI Clinic manager at Our Lady of Peace. “The drug blocks that feeling for a month. During that time, patients can pursue outpatient treatment, such as counseling, while
VIVITROL helps prevent them from relapsing.”
Psychiatrists prescribe VIVITROL and determine the length of each patient’s course of treatment. Providers at the LAI Clinic regularly update behavioral health professionals about patients’ progress and compliance with the injection regimen.
A pharmacist and a medication access coordinator run the LAI Clinic. The medication access coordinator schedules patients’ visits to the clinic, handles prior authorization paperwork to clear individuals to receive VIVITROL, and connects patients with outpatient behavioral health services.
Most patients who visit the LAI Clinic learn about it during or just after completing inpatient detoxification at Our Lady of Peace. That is by design, according to Cummings.
“We don’t want people to be discharged without giving them the option to receive naltrexone on-site,” Cummings said. “For many individuals, detoxification is a low point when they’re more likely to desire treatment. We want each patient to beat addiction and live a normal life.”
The LAI Clinic is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 844.297.8982.