BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) – A new program in Carteret County is helping people struggling with substance use.

The medically-assisted treatment program uses a monthly injection of Vivitrol to prevent continued substance dependency. The injection blocks opioid receptors in the brain, making the person unable to get a high when using drugs and have less cravings for them.

“We’ve been using that medication in my practice for about five or six years, we had great success with it,” said Dr. Kerry Willis, a physician at Open Water Medical. 

Willis and Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck teamed up for the program to help individuals on pretrial release already getting treatment for their addictions. 

“We have probably about 30 who are in residential treatment right now, eight of those are receiving Vivitrol because we’ve just begun the program,” said Buck.

They were able to purchase Vivitrol using $375,000 in grant funding. Right now, eight people qualify for the program who are now on their second dose.

“So far in the first month, it’s been smoother than I thought, you know, we’ve not had any significant side effects and little minor complaints,” said Willis.

They hope they’ll begin to see their recovery with time.

“About four months, there’s this new human being I haven’t met that walks into my office, as the drugs clean either system, as their minds are getting clearer,  it’s just incredible to me,” said Willis.

With that is the hope of continuing on the path to a better way of life.

“The longer a person goes to get these drugs and these types of things out of their system, the better position they are to be able to be successful, and remain successful, and then to not backslide months, or even years down the road,” said Buck.

Willis and Buck expect to add more people to the program who meet the qualifications.