ATLANTA — A medical implant containing a time-released drug that attacks cravings from opiates, heroin and alcohol helped a local businessman break a $9,000 per month addiction to pain medication.
"I remember going to sleep at night, wondering if I was ever going to wake up," Bradley Gorham said.
He said he was taking about a dozen pain pills a day. He was draining his bank account and jeopardizing his family and business. He considered switching to heroin because it was a cheaper opiate high.
"I would have lost my house and my wife. I would have gotten divorced if I would have kept going down that route," Gorham said.
After failed attempts to get sober, Gorham heard of a medicated assisted treatment program using Naltrexone.
It blocks the pleasure centers of the brain from the euphoric effects of opiates.
Gorham had an implant containing pellets of the drug inserted under the skin of his stomach. It releases the drug over a three- to six-month period.
He said he felt the benefits within a few days. It was like a switch flipped.
"It basically eliminates the craving. I don't have a craving to get high," he said.
A drug treatment specialist says Naltrexone transforms an addict's perception of illegal drugs.
"Thinking about heroin, turns into thinking about broccoli. It doesn't do anything to your brain. It doesn't feel good to your brain so you don't keep thinking about it," Rivermend Health Center Medical Director Dr. Stacy Seikel said.
Naltrexone implants have not been approved by the FDA, and thus may not be covered by insurance program.
BioCorRx, a company that developed an addiction treatment program using the implant, says addiction counseling is a critical component to staying clean and sober.
"They have to develop some kinds of tools to move their life forward by the time that implant, injection, or oral wears off," BioCorRx CEO Brady Granier said.
Naltrexone has been shown to be effective in treating alcohol, smoking and internet sex addiction. Gorham said it also helped with his gambling compulsion.
"Normally, I love to gamble. But I got bored with it. Thirty minutes after sitting at a table, I thought I'd rather go up to my hotel room and watch a movie," Gorham said.
Naltrexone has potential side effects, including nausea, insomnia and infection from an implant. In some patients it can be harmful to the kidneys and liver.
Gorham said it's helped him stay sober and become a better husband, father and businessman.
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