‘It was like a miracle:’ Newly approved, ‘game-changing’ opioid addiction treatment

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- The opioid crisis continues to grip the nation, with four people overdosing every hour -- but a newly approved treatment is aimed at treating addiction and saving lives.

Doug Palmer is a happily married dad, but his life wasn't always so picture perfect.

"It's been a long battle for me," he said.

More than 20 years ago, Palmer was in a devastating car crash.

"I was ejected through a back window of a car going 100 miles-an-hour -- was in pretty bad shape," he said.

That's when doctors first introduced Palmer to powerful opioid painkillers.

"By the time I was a sophomore in college, I was getting like 240 OxyContin pills a month off my doctor. I was pretty much a full-blown addict," he said.

The addiction consumed his mind, pushing him to lie and steal to get drugs.

"It goes from being fun to being, you need it. It's not fun anymore to take the pills. It's a necessity. You need to take them to do anything," he said.

Five years ago, he heard an ad on the radio that changed his life. 

Phoenix Medical Research in Prairie Village, Kansas was offering a clinical trial to treat opioid addiction. The first treatments, using pills and an oral patch, helped him finally get clean.

"It was a huge difference. Everything changed. People are able to trust you again. You start to be able to do things without having to take medicine," said Palmer.

But the real game changer came last year. Phoenix Medical Research was in the middle of a new trial for an injectable medication called Sublocade. No more remembering to take a pill or use a patch. The shot lasts a whole month and can help opioid addicts handle withdrawal and kick the cravings to use.

"Once I got the shot, it was like a miracle. I felt like I was reborn, became a new person. I was able to live my life and not have to think about taking a pill, which was huge for me," said Palmer.

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