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Ed Yeates ReportingThe government is applying more pressure than ever to find more effective ways to help people break alcohol and drug addictions. Now a Utah research group is about to begin tests on a new monthly injection of a drug, which inhibits the urge to start again.
Government stats now predict that over their lifetime, 40 to 50 million people in this country will become alcohol dependent. Several million more will become addicted to drugs. A rehab drug called Naltrexone has been used for some time to biologically block the urge to drink or use drugs, but abusers have found it too easy to simply stop taking the daily dose in pill form.
James Ferguson, M.D.: "It's so easy not to take that pill on a Wednesday morning. I forgot to take it on Thursday and Friday. Suddenly you're out with some people and they say it's a hot day at Franklin Field. How about a beer, and bingo? The process starts again."
But now, Dr. James Ferguson's group will begin testing a once a month injection of Naltrexone. If it works, each monthly injection might keep users compliant for up to four weeks at a time.
Out on the street or at home, the Utah pharmaceutical testers are looking for volunteers suffering from a wide range of addictions.
James Ferguson, M.D.: "The action of this is to block the effective opiates, so we're looking for opiate addicts - pain killers all the way to heroin, oxycontin - and it blocks the euphoric action of alcohol. So it gets rid of the biological drive to start drinking or using drugs again."
Along with the injections, volunteers will get extensive counseling. At the end of one year, researchers will assess whether rehab outcomes with the monthly injections have improved.