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Facility offers free help to combat opioid abuse

Posted on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 4:12 pm

By Rachel Christian
For the News-Gazette
When Tracy Davis woke up in the hospital after overdosing on fentanyl, a drug 100 times more potent than morphine, he was determined to turn his life around.
But he knew he would need help. Davis, 43, had struggled with opioid dependency for about 10 years, but each time he tried to quit, withdrawal symptoms brought him back.
Davis has been clean for six months now, and said he attributes a large part of his continued sobriety to an opioid treatment drug he receives called Suboxone.
“It’s been like night and day,” Davis said. “It’s like a miracle drug. Once I started taking it, the cravings just stopped.”
Suboxone and Vivitrol are two tools the Transition House in Osceola County and other facilities like it are using to combat the opioid crisis in Central Florida. The number of fatal opioid related deaths has spiked in recent years.
Transition House CEO Tom Griffin said the additional money makes it possible to continue providing new programs like this to the most under served parts of the community.
“I’m very pleased we’re in a position to have something like this at no cost to the client,” Griffin said. “It’s something that’s going to help people right here in Osceola County in a new way.”
According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 50,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2015 alone – more than the number car crash and gun violence related deaths combined.
A growing number of opioid abusers, including Davis, said they first became addicted to prescription pain pills before seeking out stronger illicit substances like heroin and fentanyl.
Drugs like Suboxone and Vivitrol share a common compound called noloxone that blocks opioid receptors in the brain. Though the drugs differ in some ways – including how and when they are administered – they are both designed to reduce an addict’s chance of relapse by eliminating the rush or high formerly achieved with opioids.
For Davis, who still attends outpatient counseling services three days a week at the Transition House, trading in a life of addiction for one of sobriety has come with its ups and downs. He said that receiving Suboxone smoothed his road to recovery by eliminating the cravings that once controlled his life.
“They say the treatment drug won’t just work on its own, you need that support system too,” Davis said. “And now that I have both, it’s helped me get my life back.”
Suboxone and Vivitrol have shown to be effective when used in conjunction with counseling and therapy with medically qualified patients, but the drugs come with a hefty price tag.
At $1,000 a vial, Vivitrol was too expensive for the Transition House to offer at a low cost to its patients. That changed when the organization received nearly $200,000 in special funding this year from the state legislature and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association. The money was awarded to the Treatment House to help offset costs associated with administering Suboxone and Vivitrol to recovering opioid users.
For more information about the Transition House and the programs it offers, call 407-892-5700.