New pilot program aims to stop opioid abuse in Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Starting in March, Henrico County Drug Court will implement a new pilot program designed to help opioid addicts kick the habit, thanks to a grant handed down by the Virginia Supreme Court.

“The grant is about $49,800. It will be targeted for the use of Vivitrol with approximately six to eight drug court participants,” Gary Hughes, Director of Henrico County Community Corrections Program, explained.

Of the more than 1,000 overdose deaths that occurred in the Commonwealth last year, 55 of them occurred in Henrico County.

Participants of the program will be given monthly injections of Vivitrol, which according to its website, blocks opioid receptors in the brain.

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“It allows for or limits the opportunity for any type of abuse of the drug with it being in the injectable format,” Hughes explained. “So it’s long lasting. Participants will receive these injections for six months.”

The drug is meant to be used in conjunction with counseling and can cause side effects including overdose, allergic reaction, sudden opioid withdraw and liver damage.

Hughes says the pilot program is part of a bigger county-wide effort to halt opioid use, led by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office and Henrico’s Mental Health Department.

“This is certainly an addiction that we need to combat with many different techniques and with many different tools, and we’re hoping that Vivitrol will be one of those tools that we can employ as a county to help combat this epidemic.”

Later in the week, the Henrico County Heroin Task Force will address heroin and opioid abuse from 2-5 p.m. at Glen Allen High School. FBI Director, James Comey is also set to make an appearance.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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