The following is an op-ed by Dr. Evan Wood.
Canadians battling alcohol and drug addictions have a tough road ahead. Finding treatment is difficult. For those who are able to get into a treatment program, care is often substandard and lacks the full benefit of modern medicine.
The new long-acting formulation of a drug called nal-trexone is a perfect example of how Canada is playing catch-up in the world of addiction treatment.
The drug, which has been marketed in the U.S. under the trade name Vivitrol, is a drug that takes advantage of modern advancements in pharmaceutical development enabling an extended-release preparation that allows the drug to be slowly released into the body over the course of a month.
Vivitrol is proven effective. As an opioid antagonist, Vivitrol reduces the rewarding effects of alcohol and completely blocks the effects of opioids like heroin for up to 30 days.
In the first large randomized trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vivitrol reduced heavy drinking in alcoholics by 25 per cent. In a subsequent study published in the British Medical Journal The Lancet, 90 per cent of heroin addicts prescribed Vivitrol became abstinent compared to 35 per cent of patients injected with a placebo.