Former heroin addict shares story of injectable treatment recovery

Vivitrol, also known as injectable naltrexone, is a drug used for opioid and alcohol addiction treatment

James Burns used an injectable treatment medication to recover from his heroin addiction.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Some struggling with opioid addiction are using treatment drugs to help them on their path to recovery.

Jason Burns is approaching three years clean and says he’s “actually happy.”

“You’re given back the ability to live again, you know? And to me, that’s something I missed, that I didn’t think I’d even get back…because we become hopeless.”

Burns’ nightmare involving heroin began shortly after his younger brother, Christopher, died of an overdose.

Burns used for almost seven years, got into trouble, went to rehab three times in an attempt to get clean.

“For me, I needed something more, it just wasn’t enough. I’d get to a certain point and after rehab and the halfway houses, I would end up using again. It was just a cycle,” he said.

In December of 2013, Burns was working as a paralegal for the City of Warren, but resigned after being high at work and charged with felony drug possession. That was his turning point, but he knew he needed to try something else for his sobriety to stick.

Then someone told him about Vivitrol, also known as injectable naltrexone, which is a drug used for opioid and alcohol addiction treatment.

“Like any drug, there’s side effects. What’s the alternative? Heroin,” Burns said. “To me, I weighed it and I absolutely believed that this, for me, would work and it did.”

Misty Long, director of behavioral health at One Health Ohio, explains that the person is given an injection once every 28 days.

“Once you have the injection, your opiate receptors are blocked. So if you were to use opiates, you don’t get the euphoric effect of the drug.”

Burns got the shot for 14 months and hasn’t had it since.

“The best thing about the Vivitrol is it took away my choice to use,” he said. “It helped me push through to get to the other side.”

Now he’s feeling better than ever and is sharing his success story, showing those who feel hopeless that recovery is possible.

“If it could give a little glimmer of hope…that’s good because that may change their life like it changed mine.”

The ACT (Addiction, Counseling & Treatment) Center for Recovery is having a meeting about the medication Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. It will be held at the Youngstown Community Health Center in the Community Room at 726 Wick Ave.

Those struggling with addiction, family, friends and community members are invited to attend the discussion about this treatment option. Call 1-844-652-8219 to reserve your seat.

WKBN is launching a year-long public service campaign to raise awareness about the problem and help come up with solutions. It kicked off with a special town hall discussion, “27 Investigates: Heroin Crisis – National Problem, Local Solutions.”

See all of WKBN 27 First News’ stories on the epidemic in our “Heroin Crisis” section.

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