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(BPT) - “I’m living proof that you can become an expert on something you never even wanted to learn about – and it can be devastating,” explains Sharon Osbourne.
She is an incredibly successful television host, rock ‘n’ roll mogul and a star of one of the most memorable reality TV shows ever created. She is the matriarch of a well-loved, well-known and buzzed about celebrity family. But first and foremost, Sharon Osbourne is a wife and mother, whose strength, perseverance and enduring love has helped her family navigate a journey of incredible achievements as well as frightening health challenges.
Like so many others across the nation, multiple members of Sharon’s family have long been fighting a battle with opioid addiction. “After watching their father struggle through years of addiction, I never thought my adult children, Jack and Kelly, would end up on the same dark path,” says Sharon. “It was devastating to see that they each developed an addiction to opioids, and there were times when the fear of what would become of them was almost unbearable. As a mother, you never want to see your adult children suffer, and it’s easy to feel helpless in that situation.”
With the opioid crisis climbing to record levels across the country, Sharon emphasizes it is critical for families to remember that opioid addiction is a relapsing brain disease, not a choice. “It can be heartbreaking to see a loved one go through the cycle of addiction, sometimes over and over again.”
And while her husband Ozzy, as well as Jack and Kelly, are now in their own respective opioid recovery journeys, Sharon is sharing her personal caregiver experiences in the hopes of helping others.
She has teamed up with Let’s Change the Conversation, an initiative aimed at providing caregivers with resources and information about opioid addiction.
“Unfortunately, there is no ‘right way’ to help a loved one struggling with opioid addiction. There have been times when I was trying to be supportive, and then realized I could have done some things differently. Of course my heart was always in the right place. But through my experiences, I learned to use my head more in deciding what my loved ones with opioid addiction really needed from me.”
The more knowledgeable Sharon became about the disease of opioid addiction, the more effective she was at helping her family members get the kind of help they needed. She researched detox and rehab centers, spoke with healthcare providers about different treatment options, and reached out to trusted friends for advice and support. One treatment option she did not learn about at the time was VIVITROL® (naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension), a prescription medication to prevent relapse to opioid dependence used with counseling and following detoxification.
“Being a caregiver is a journey in its own right. We have to stay strong for the people we’re helping. And as caregivers, we must band together so that we don’t lose ourselves in this crisis. Now more than ever, you can take real steps to help someone you love on their journey to recovery.”
Sharon’s Tips for Caregivers
“Even though I didn’t want to believe it, I had to pull myself out of denial, acknowledge the problem, and think about how to address it – no matter how difficult it was to face.” Sharon recommends the following tips to have an effective conversation with a loved one about opioid addiction.
Asking your loved one to “quit” their opioid addiction is not enough. “I urge caregivers to do more than just ask their loved ones to stop taking opioids – remember, addiction is a disease, not a choice. Caregivers should consider developing a recovery action plan that is tailored to what’s best for their loved one by researching available treatment options.”Unwavering support is key. “I know all too well about the excuses that people with opioid addiction can make when it comes to seeking treatment. It’s important for caregivers to provide support through thick and thin, no matter how hard it gets.”Don’t forget the “love” in “tough love.” “Your loved one’s opioid addiction may be hurting people they care about, and it’s okay to point that out. You can also remind them that they are not their addiction – you support one, and reject the other. I’ve always made it clear that I’m determined to support my family members’ recovery processes and that I’m not going anywhere, even when it’s most difficult.”Be honest, but not judgmental. “It’s important to let your loved one know that they can no longer hide their addiction to opioids from you, but that you’re there to help them on their road to recovery, not judge them. Make sure you are both listening to each other about how best to approach their opioid addiction treatment.”Research treatment options. “As a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do is research ALL available treatment options for opioid addiction. After many years of helping my family fight opioid addiction, I’ve learned that knowing all the treatment options is imperative.”Speak with a healthcare professional. “Many caregivers are searching for ways to help their loved ones, so don't be afraid to speak to your healthcare provider about all treatment options. VIVITROL is not right for everyone. Discuss all benefits and risks with a healthcare provider. Please see below for a brief summary of important facts about VIVITROL.”
Sharon Osbourne has long been a caregiver of loved ones suffering from opioid or alcohol dependence. Ms. Osbourne does not have opioid or alcohol dependence and neither she nor her loved ones have had treatment with Alkermes’ medication.
(naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension)
BRIEF SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT VIVITROL
What is the most important information I should know about VIVITROL?
VIVITROL can cause serious side effects, including:
1. Risk of opioid overdose. You can accidentally overdose in two ways.
VIVITROL blocks the effects of opioids, such as heroin or opioid pain medicines. Do not try to overcome this blocking effect by taking large amounts of opioids—this can lead to serious injury, coma, or death.After you receive a dose of VIVITROL, its blocking effect slowly decreases and completely goes away over time. If you have used opioid street drugs or opioid-containing medicines in the past, using opioids in amounts that you used before treatment with VIVITROL can lead to overdose and death. You may also be more sensitive to the effects of lower amounts of opioids:– after you have gone through detoxification– when your next VIVITROL dose is due– if you miss a dose of VIVITROL– after you stop VIVITROL treatment
Tell your family and the people closest to you of this increased sensitivity to opioids and the risk of overdose.
2. Severe reactions at the site of injection. Some people on VIVITROL have had severe injection site reactions, including tissue death. Some of these reactions have required surgery. Call your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of the following at any of your injection sites:
intense painthe area feels hardlarge area of swellinglumpsblistersan open wounda dark scab
Tell your healthcare provider about any reaction at an injection site that concerns you, gets worse over time, or does not get better within two weeks.
3. Sudden opioid withdrawal. To avoid sudden opioid withdrawal, you must stop taking any type of opioid, including street drugs; prescription pain medicines; cough, cold, or diarrhea medicines that contain opioids; or opioid-dependence treatments, including buprenorphine or methadone, for at least 7 to 14 days before starting VIVITROL. If your healthcare provider decides that you don’t need to complete detox first, he or she may give you VIVITROL in a medical facility that can treat sudden opioid withdrawal. Sudden opioid withdrawal can be severe and may require hospitalization.
4. Liver damage or hepatitis. Naltrexone, the active ingredient in VIVITROL, can cause liver damage or hepatitis. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms during treatment with VIVITROL:
stomach area pain lasting more than a few daysdark urineyellowing of the whites of your eyestiredness
Your healthcare provider may need to stop treating you with VIVITROL if you get signs or symptoms of a serious liver problem.
What is VIVITROL?
VIVITROL is a prescription injectable medicine used to:
treat alcohol dependence. You should stop drinking before starting VIVITROL.prevent relapse to opioid dependence, after opioid detoxification.
You must stop taking opioids before you start receiving VIVITROL. To be effective, VIVITROL must be used with other alcohol or drug recovery programs such as counseling. VIVITROL may not work for everyone. It is not known if VIVITROL is safe and effective in children.
Who should not receive VIVITROL?
Do not receive VIVITROL if you:
are using or have a physical dependence on opioid-containing medicines or opioid street drugs, such as heroin. To test for a physical dependence on opioid-containing medicines or street drugs, your healthcare provider may give you a small injection of a medicine called naloxone. This is called a naloxone challenge test. If you get symptoms of opioid withdrawal after the naloxone challenge test, do not start treatment with VIVITROL at that time. Your healthcare provider may repeat the test after you have stopped using opioids to see whether it is safe to start VIVITROL.are having opioid withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms may happen when you have been taking opioid containing medicines or opioid street drugs regularly and then stop. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include: anxiety, sleeplessness, yawning, fever, sweating, teary eyes, runny nose, goose bumps, shakiness, hot or cold flushes, muscle aches, muscle twitches, restlessness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps.are allergic to naltrexone or any of the ingredients in VIVITROL or the liquid used to mix VIVITROL (diluent). See the medication guide for the full list of ingredients.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before receiving VIVITROL?
Before you receive VIVITROL, tell your healthcare provider if you:
have liver problems, use or abuse street (illegal) drugs, have hemophilia or other bleeding problems, have kidney problems, or have any other medical conditions.are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if VIVITROL will harm your unborn baby.are breastfeeding. It is not known if VIVITROL passes into your milk, and if it can harm your baby. Naltrexone, the active ingredient in VIVITROL, is the same active ingredient in tablets taken by mouth that contain naltrexone. Naltrexone from tablets passes into breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you will breastfeed or take VIVITROL. You should not do both.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any opioid-containing medicines for pain, cough or colds, or diarrhea.
If you are being treated for alcohol dependence but also use or are addicted to opioid-containing medicines or opioid street drugs, it is important that you tell your healthcare provider before starting VIVITROL to avoid having sudden opioid withdrawal symptoms when you start VIVITROL treatment.
What are other possible serious side effects of VIVITROL?
VIVITROL can cause serious side effects, including:
Depressed mood. Sometimes this leads to suicide, or suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behavior. Tell your family members and people closest to you that you are taking VIVITROL.
Pneumonia. Some people receiving VIVITROL treatment have had a type of pneumonia that is caused by an allergic reaction. If this happens to you, you may need to be treated in the hospital.
Serious allergic reactions. Serious allergic reactions can happen during or soon after an injection of VIVITROL. Tell your healthcare provider or get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms:
skin rashswelling of your face, eyes, mouth, or tonguetrouble breathing or wheezingchest painfeeling dizzy or faint
Common side effects of VIVITROL may include:
nauseasleepinessheadachedizzinessvomitingpainful jointsdecreased appetitemuscle crampscold symptomstrouble sleepingtoothache
These are not all the side effects of VIVITROL. Tell your healthcare
provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not
go away. You are encouraged to report all side effects to the FDA.
Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
This is only a summary of the most important information about VIVITROL.
Need more information?
Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Read the Medication Guide, which is available at vivitrol.com and by calling 1-800-848-4876, option #1.
This Brief Summary is based on the VIVITROL Medication Guide
(Rev. July 2013).
ALKERMES and VIVITROL are registered trademarks of Alkermes, Inc.
©2018 Alkermes, Inc. All rights reserved.
VIV-003926 Printed in the U.S.A.