Breaking News
More () »

Expert: Why 'naltrexone' should be as common as 'Narcan'

A drug addiction treatment expert sheds light on lesser-known drug treatment for those who are addicted to opioids, also called narcotics.

ST. LOUIS — A woman has been charged in connection to the seven fatal overdose deaths in St. Louis over the weekend. 

Chuny Ann Reed has been charged in U.S. District Court with the distribution of cocaine base and fentanyl. 

St. Louis Police said Tuesday the seven people who died from overdoses included six men and one woman. Two other men were transported to a hospital. Police say the victims are in their 40s, 50s or 60s.

Federal prosecutors say Reed admitted to selling drugs to her neighbors at Parkview Apartments.

RELATED: Woman charged with selling cocaine, fentanyl after several overdoses in St. Louis

Drug addiction

Percy Menzies has worked in addiction and dependency for decades as the founder of ARCA – Assisted Recovery Centers of America.

“Addiction is so narcissistic, if one patient overdosed, they’re not going to run away," Menzies said. "Instead, addicts say ‘I want that because I’ll be able to get the perfect high! I won’t be like the other persons.’”

ARCA has a walk-in clinic downtown, at 14th and Olive streets, right across from the public library. Menzies speculates the seven people who died, likely from fentanyl overdoses, all had the same drug dealer.

“And when they mix the fentanyl,” he said, “they’re not scientists. They’re not technicians. They just add something, because every drug dealer wants to make their batch high-octane, not realizing, if you add too much fentanyl, it’s a death sentence.”

Why Narcan isn't enough

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a medicine that reverses the effects of opioid overdose and saves lives. But Menzies wants to focus attention on naltrexone, which curbs the cravings.

“So, the benefit is – let’s say I’ve been in detox and I’ve done well. I need to protect myself. I take a pill and for 24 hours and the heroin or any opiate cannot enter the brain. It becomes a drug-free zone.”

Menzies said he is lobbying Missouri legislators to give naltrexone the same status as naloxone. Senate Bill 1037 in the Missouri legislature would allow pharmacies to sell naltrexone for drug treatment.

“If somebody is on the risk of relapsing, they should be able to go to the pharmacy, pick up a week’s supply of naltrexone, and protect themselves,” he said.

Naltrexone goes by the brand names "Revia" and "Vivitrol" in the United States. Injections can help ease the cravings of opioid and alcohol dependence.

Before You Leave, Check This Out