Sitcom actor on serious subject of drinking to excess and how an implant is helping him

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It’s the holiday season. For some that means they’re drinking more, many to excess. But for others it’s a struggle all year long. Now, there’s a radical way to get help.

Joseph Dorrian: “Kinda noticed I was drinking way too much, going out on weekends, getting completely drunk where you black out, not remembering nights.”

Joseph Dorrian knew he had a drinking problem eight years ago.

Joseph Dorrian: “What happens to me is when I’m not drinking, I don’t got a craving. But once I go past that third beer I go on a binge. I’m a binge drinker, so I go on my binge and that’s me for a week drinking. I’ve lost so many jobs over it, so many good jobs over it.”

And like so many alcoholics, he believed he could control his intake.

Joseph Dorrian: “It’s like, ‘I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok this time. I can go in there and have a drink with the boys after work.’ But I can’t. When the boys are ready to go that’s when the craving does kick in for me, and then I just keep going.”

Jeremy Miller: “From a very young age, when I started there was no off switch.”

Jeremy Miller got his first taste of beer finishing off drinks at a family party. He was four. When he worked as an actor on a popular sitcom – alcohol was readily available at social functions. The first time he drank to the point of intoxication he was just 12 years old.

Jeremy Miller: “Because of the show, people treated you like an adult when you were not an adult. It started getting really consistent around 19 years old. I woke up one morning and realized I needed a drink. From that point on, from when I started drinking all day, things went downhill.”

Jeremy tried desperately to quit, but his cravings for alcohol overpowered his will.

Jeremy Miller: “I did 12-step, I did 30-day inpatient. I did a 60-day intensive outpatient. I did meditation, hypnosis, herbal therapy, hydrotherapy. Everything I could find. Anything that had any proven track record at all I tried, and I couldn’t make it work. There were so many times I would drive down to the liquor store, and I’m screaming at myself, ‘What are you doing? You’re losing everything!’ It was miserable.”

Dr George Fallieras, Start Fresh Recovery Medical Director: “For many people it’s impossible to overcome this urge. It’s those people that continue to fail and continue to fail and continue to fail and are dying to quit.”

It’s a shared misery that brought Joseph and Jeremy to Start Fresh Recovery, where medical director Dr George Fallieras offers patients a naltrexone implant. The drug blocks opiate receptors in the brain -- stopping the cascade of signals that leaves patients wanting more and more alcohol.

Dr George Fallieras: “When someone’s brain gets high jacked by an addiction, alcohol in this case, hundreds of times a day they are going to have these intrusive compulsions to drink. Naltrexone blocks those opiate receptors and helps significantly reduce or eliminate those constant cravings.”

Jeremy had the implant placed three years ago and now counsels fellow patients. Today, he’s prepping Joseph for the procedure.

Joseph Dorrian: “Alcohol, it’s no good. I’ve seen it ruin so many lives, so many families. I just don’t want that happening to me.”

The drug isn’t new – it’s been around for decades and is commonly given in pill form or via injection. But at Start Fresh, two small pellets are implanted just below the skin in the abdomen. The drug is slowly released into the blood stream over the course of six months – a critical time in the recovery process.

Dr George Fallieras: “Many people fall off those very critical first six months, three to six months, and that’s when these overwhelming cravings, these intrusive compulsions to drink, are so overwhelming that despite wanting to quit more than anything, they can’t. They succumb. If we have an additional medicine which assists, kind of decreases that constant arousal, they can get through that critical period.”

Jeremy Miller: “This is not some magic bullet that’s going to fix everything. There’s work that needs to go into it, there’s still a lot of things you have to do and a fight you have to put up. This medicine won’t tie your hands behind your back and keep you from picking up a drink.”

The procedure costs about $23,000 and is covered by many insurance plans. But the implant is just one part of the program. Start Fresh offers behavioral counseling and support as well – critical components to a successful recovery.

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