Former Pill, Heroin Addict Says Monthly Injections Helps him Fight Drug Cravings

The impact addiction is having on the Wausau community has some families wondering where they can turn for help. Unfortunately, the craving that an addict fights in their road to recovery follows them and sometimes pulls them back under again.

“Softball. I was good.... running the bases I broke my ankle around eight years ago", Explains Travis Brugger, 41, for his addiction to painkillers and then heroin.

"When my prescription ran out I found them [pills] on the street. I had to have … had to have them … had to. I went four hours one way to get one pill."

Brugger said he'd take around 27 pills of OxyCotin everyday. He says withdrawls were painful and the cravings made recovery seem impossible-- until now.

"As soon as I took that shot--- boom the cravings were gone. And they've been gone for 14 weeks.

Brugger is part of a growing successful in-patient recovery program in Chippewa Falls at LE Phillips Libertas of St. Joseph's Hospital. It is one of very few in-patient treatment centers in Wisconsin.

At the facility they pair counseling with the drug, Naltrexone, also known as Vivitrol. Vivitrol has been around for decades, but for the first time, addicts don't need to stay on a regimen of daily pills. Instead, they can get a monthly injection.

"It reduces cravings and it blocks opiates to the body. Even if he could do opiates he would not be able to receive any high from opiates. It doesn't affect the body at all. He could do 800 mg and it would not affect him,” Explains LE Phillips Libertas Director, Tom Fuchs.

At around $1,300 per injection treatment doesn't come cheap, but Fuchs says it is typically covered by insurance plans.

The clinic says they're currently treating 40 patients struggling with addiction, like Travis.

“It's an incredible medication. It saved Travis' life,” Said Fuchs.

Travis said he has tried other recovery drugs like Methadone and Saboxone, but says they don't compare.

Patients considering treatment must be clean for at least a week before beginning treatment, otherwise Vivitrol can put you back into withdrawl. Monthly injections continue for up to two years until the body's addiction is broken.

“When you actually become free from it-- there's something about it where you feel free. Free at last. And that's what we've experienced with Travis”, Stated Fuchs.

Travis says he feels whole now that his cravings are gone. "It's only been 14 weeks but life is way different.”

Treatment is a vital part of recovery using Vivitrol, and keeping addicts clean for a week leading up to the first dose can be difficult. The treatment center in Chippewa Falls is seeing a lot more addicts than ever before right now . They say especially since one center closed in Marshfield.

For addicts in north central Wisconsin, getting in-patient treatment together with the drug can be the most difficult and expensive part. But if you're committed to the recovery of either yourself or a loved one, Fuchs says it's a priceless investment.

Click here for more information on treatment at LE Phillips Libertas from their website.

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