Medical Implant Helps Addicts Recover Without Withdrawals

By Dr. Bruce Hensel and Crystal Muguerza
|  Monday, Jun 23, 2014  |  Updated 9:54 PM PDT
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A new treatment for drug and alcohol addiction can reduce or eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms with a tiny implant. As Dr. Bruce Hensel explains, it helped a former child TV star overcome his alcoholism and get his life back on track. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, June 23, 2014.

Dr. Bruce Hensel

A new treatment for drug and alcohol addiction can reduce or eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms with a tiny implant. As Dr. Bruce Hensel explains, it helped a former child TV star overcome his alcoholism and get his life back on track. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, June 23, 2014.

Child star Jeremy Miller was an addict until he discovered a new implantable drug that promised to put an end to his alcohol addiction.

Miller, known for his role as Ben Seaver in the popular 1980s sitcom "Growing Pains," started drinking alcohol when he was 19 years old.

“It became an all day, everyday thing,” Miller said. “It was four or five drinks a day, but it kept on like that for 15 years.”

On the verge of losing his family, Miller knew he couldn’t live that way, so he turned to Start Fresh Recovery for help.

Start Fresh Recovery uses an implantable form of the drug Naltrexone to reduce and eliminate cravings for drugs or alcohol.

Although a pill form of the drug has been available for 20 years, it hasn’t been as effective.

“They think, ‘I don’t need this. I’m doing so well.’ And they will stop taking it,” said Dr. George Fallieras, medical director of Start Fresh Discovery.

But using an implantable form of the drug completely removes that variable of compliance.

The procedure takes about 20 minutes, and once it’s implanted in the abdomen, it slowly dissolves and releases medication over a period of six to eight months.

The patient receives a very low, yet effective dose that helps eliminate the urge to drink or use drugs.

Addicts then have the opportunity to fully participate in their recovery program without experiencing any withdrawals.

“They are not ravaged by this craving,” Fallieras said.

Start Fresh Recovery helped Miller put an end to his addiction. He has been sober for two years now.

“That craving is not there and life is coming together,” Miller said. “Sobriety is an incredible feeling.”

Dr. Bruce’s advice: Although the medication helps, it’s only one part of the program. Patients still need to commit to counseling and changing their behavior to recover successfully.

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