'It eliminates the cravings for the drug and eliminates the possibility of a high'

      EUGENE, Ore. - A program aimed at helping people overcome opiate addiction has begun in Lane County.

      Thanks to a $37,969 grant from the John Serbu fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, certain drug court participants are now eligible to receive Vivitrol treatments.

      The treatments are a monthly injection that help to curb the side effects of opiate abuse.

      "What we understand about the drug is that it eliminates the cravings for the drug and eliminates the possibility of a high," said Kartsten Rasmussen, the presiding judge of Lane County Circuit Court.

      In his last 15 years on the bench, Judge Rasmussen says he's seen an increase of heroin addicts.

      That's a problem authorities say comes at a high price to the community.

      "The heroin problem in our community is extremely expensive if you think about the ripple effects of the drug use, of the crime associated with it," Sgt. Carrie Carver with the Lane County Sheriff's Office said. "You can't even put a dollar amount on the pain and the vulnerability."

      But Vivitrol treatments aren't cheap either.

      Each treatment costs between $800 and $1,000.

      The grant from the John Serbu fund will help pay for a small number of people to undergo Vivitrol treatments.

      Though funding isn't available for every opiate addict who goes through drug court in Lane County, Sgt. Carver says its impact will still be great.

      "If this works for even just one or two people then it's a success for us because those are lives saved," she says.

      According to Sgt. Carver, 43 percent of people who enter drug court use opiates.

      That's why Judge Rasmussen believes anything that can help stem the tide of drug use is something worth trying.

      "We need to bring any tool we can to bare on this problem, because it's a significant problem," he said.

      At this point, only one person is undergoing Vivitrol treatments funded by the grant, and it's unclear how many people will receive treatments funded through the donation.

      Both Rasmussen and Carver hope that if these treatments prove viable for Lane County addicts, the county will find more funding for continued treatments.