Addicted Inmates in Onondaga County to Undergo Recovery Program

For many families, addicts and addicted inmates, the battle against opiate addiction has been hopeless. A roller coaster ride that takes the addicted inmates and everyone who cares about that person through the lowest of lows. A recent development in treating this addiction has shown some promise and has restored hope from many. Now the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office is doing what it can to help inmates in Onondaga country who have been addicted to opiates.The recovery program consists of two essential parts – one is an access to vivitrol injections and the second is a set of counseling sessions that intend to facilitate the recovery of the inmates. Addicted inmates who are confined at the Jamesville Penitentiary and Onondaga County Justice Center will be eligible to participate. The program was established in response to the widespread use of the opioid drug within the county and throughout Central New York. The epidemic grows so has the list of drugs being abused. This new initiative is a big step in battling the illegal use of of fentanyl, heroin, and a range of prescription painkillers. This is not just about saving the addicts and addicted inmates life, rampant drug use has contributed to many other crimes. As a result, this new program will help fight drug abuse and the crimes associated with drug seeking behavior. Eugene Conway, the Onondaga County Sheriff, stated roughly one-third of the inmates who are incarcerated in the Justice Center from June 2014 to June 2015 are said to be opioid-addicted. The figure may be higher The facility houses about 600 inmates. Read his full comments here.

How Does the Addicted Inmates Program Work?

Sheriff Conway owned up to the fact that there have been a set of different recovery treatments in the past, but none has worked effectively. He believes that the use of an injection which is supplemented by counseling would be far more effective than what is currently available. He also pointed out that while it would be ideal for all addicted inmates to undergo the program, the participation remains voluntary. One of his biggest concerns is also the behavior of the repeat offenders. He mentioned that many of these inmates normally go back to their old habits once they are back on the street again. For the inmates who are eligible to participate in the program, they will be given a shot of Vivitrol prior to their release. The timing of this program is what may be the most impactful part of this initiative. Hopefully the people who are being released from our county jails and have battled opiate addiction in the past will be of a clear mind and willing to accept the help.

What is Vivitrol?

The drug is used to block that imminent effects of hard drugs and prescription drugs for as long as one whole month. Vivitrol is one of the latest FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of addiction. It is currently being used in over 100 jails and prisons all across the United States. This drug can also be used to treat alcoholics. For Vivitrol to be fully effective, a person has to be opioid-free for 7-14 days. A study on Vivitrol efficacy ,which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals that the said injection has helped reduce the potential relapse of former convicts by as much as 30%. Another advantage of using Vivitrol as oppose to the drugs taken daily is that there is no chance of missing a shot. On the other hand, many patients tend to miss a day or two of daily medication which would essentially expose them to higher risks of relapse. The medicine, which is to be administered monthly, has a lasting effect of 28-30 days per shot. The manufacturer of the drug has also been particularly helpful in the program. The company is offering some reduction in the cost of the shots. Whatever the cost, if the program is successful, the money that will be saved by reduced medical attention and law enforcement involvement will be significant. The injection, however, cannot be administered to inmates who display any physical withdrawal symptoms as there should be other treatments to be performed for such cases. Inmates who are participating in the program must not be allergic to naltrexone or any other ingredients used in the preparation of the liquid mix Vivitrol. Like any drugs there are potential side effects and complications. As a result, the treatment may not be right for everyone and all participants should consult with their physician.

The Collaborative Effort

This recovery treatment plan has been made possible through the collaboration of several agencies including the office of the Onondaga County Sheriff, the Department of Correction, the Health Department and the Probation Department. In addition, the Syracuse Drug Court has also contributed immensely to the project. Correct Care Solutions, the company that provides medical services to Jamesville and the Justice Center, will also take part in the program. Moreover, three different providers of community treatment programs are also involved. They are the Syracuse Community Health Center, Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare, and the Syracuse Recovery Services.

How to Screen Candidates

The treatment providers are in charge of screening the inmates who would likely benefit the most from the program. Apart from the Vivitrol injection, inmates who are to be released will also participate in a counseling program. This aftercare step is to provide them with the right support to boost the potential success of the program. In a nutshell, the drug and the counseling programs go hand-in-hand to ensure success. Conway also reiterated that one of the riskiest times for addicts and addicted inmates who are on the road to recovery is their release from prison. It is an absolute must to make sure that they have access to a treatment facility in order to truly help them fully recover and stay on track. If these recovering addicts would simply get the shots and walk away, no improvement may be seen. The counseling part of the program is just as important as the medical support provided. The same program is also being implemented in Jefferson, Albany, and Madison counties. Such recovery programs offer a new model for combating addiction. If the program is effective and the participants do well post-release, the impact could be dramatic not only for the participant but also for the surrounding communities. More importantly, this program could lay the groundwork to finally getting a grip on Central New York’s heroin epidemic.

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