BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An implantable form of an existing substance abuse medication promises to help break the vicious cycle of addiction.
"If I had not gotten the implant, I believe I'd be dead at this point. I really do," actor Jeremy Miller said in an interview via Skype.
Miller is best known for his role as Ben Seaver in the hit TV show Growing Pains. He developed an alcohol addiction not long after the series ended.
"I didn't start drinking every day until I was 19 years old," he said. Now 38, Miller still acts and also works as a successful chef.
His story of addiction is not unique, but how he overcame it is. He credits a time-release implant containing the drug naltrexone. It's long been available in pill-form to block cravings for alcohol and the euphoric effects of opiates, but the daily form of the medication never caught on.
"If you're an addict, and you wake up every morning, and you have to decide, 'Do I want to take the pill, or do I want my best friend?' which might be the drink or a pill," said Brady Granier, COO and interim CEO of BioCorRx. "Or, 'I won't take it this week, because I'm going to so-and-so's birthday party, or New Year's,' so the compliance was nonexistent."
Granier is originally from Bayou Beouf and graduated from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. He and his family now live in Los Angeles.
BioCorRx owns the rights to a proprietary implant compound of naltrexone. A small capsule is placed in the lower abdomen where it releases medication for up to six to twelve months based on individual metabolism rates and other factors, according to the company. While the physical cravings are suppressed, the patient undergoes traditional addiction counseling and coaching through the Start Fresh program.
Miller said he never felt 'medicated' after getting the implant and noticed the effects almost immediately.
"My fiance and I stopped to go get some gas on the way home from the procedure," he recalled. "It had taken us about three hours to get home, and she gave me 20 bucks to pay. I walked in, I paid, and I walked out without even glancing at the beers or anything else, and for me that was huge. That was the first time in 12 years, easily, I had walked out of a convenience store without something in my hand."
He also cautioned that the coaching and therapy aspect of the program is just as vital for long-term success.
Start Fresh is currently offered in a dozen locations around the United States, and a pilot program is underway at a wellness center in California. If successful, Granier's hope is to eventually bring the implant and life-coaching program to 1,000 similar centers nationwide.
"In a perfect world, we would have multiple locations in every state," he said. "Because the key is, this is a completely outpatient procedure. The beauty of this is that someone can enter this program in the framework of their lives."
The closest current locations to Louisiana are Dallas and Atlanta. Granier said price varies on the specific center, but usually ranges from the high teens to the low $20,000 range. Insurance will sometimes cover some of the costs.