Kenosha is one of several counties in Southeast Wisconsin offering diversion programs involving an opioid blocker drug called Vivitrol.
It’s just one method the county is using to combat opioid abuse.
“If you can manage to figure out alternative ways and incentives for people who are addicted to opiates to get clean, we know there will be less criminal behavior, we know there’s going to be a safer community,” said Kenosha County District Attorney, Michael Graveley.
“We are a community that has had more than 50 drug overdose deaths each year for the last four years,” said Graveley.
Vivitrol isn’t a pill, it’s a monthly shot designed for opioid addicts and some believe it’s changing lives.
“It reduces the cravings or the desire to want to use,” said Kenosha County nurse Amanda Tuura.
Tuura explained Vivitrol blocks the body from feeling the effects of opioids like heroin. Tuura sees first hand how it’s helping prevent people from relapsing.
“They’re getting their lives back on track,” said Tuura.
Kenosha County is contributing about $200,000 a year to opioid diversion programs involving Vivitrol.
One program is offered to first-time drug offenders who are choosing treatment over drug charges or incarceration.
“That program has had 37 people who have been offered those services, 20 people are what I would call successful in the program now,” said Graveley.
Besides Kenosha county, Ozaukee and Racine counties have diversion programs using Vivitrol. Sheboygan County is starting one soon.
Counseling, health officials stress is a crucial part of the diversion programs.
“Many of our clients have said it’s a miracle drug. It’s a great medication, but at the end of the day, our clients are the ones that put in the work,” said Tuura.
Vivitrol can be an expensive drug. On some private insurance plans, one shot can cost around $1,000. But, Medicaid covers it and Kenosha County said it financially assists those people who are uninsured.