Thursday, August 3, 2017
Three in four new heroin users start by abusing prescription drugs, according to the National Institutes of Health. And unfortunately their addiction often leads them to jail.
The Atlantic County Justice Facility is participating in the first program in New Jersey to provide a mobile treatment service to its inmates.
Rather than having to transport inmates to an outside methadone clinic, the clinic comes to them in a van that can provide up to 50 inmates a day with a daily methadone treatment. The treatments help addicts avoid the potentially serious consequences of unassisted withdrawal that can lead to relapse and recidivism. The van is provided by the John Brooks Recovery Center.
“This is one small, but positive step in addressing opioid addiction and its impacts on our communities,” stated County Executive Dennis Levinson. “If we are successful then hopefully it will be implemented throughout New Jersey.”
Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions across our country. The Centers for Disease Control reports 91 people die each day from an opioid overdose. And overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers have risen dramatically, by more than 400% for women and 265% for men.
The use of methadone for opioid addiction helps reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It blocks the euphoric rush produced by these drugs which can help reduce the chance for relapse, and in the case of jail inmates, may reduce the risk of recidivism.
“Through the jail’s mobile treatment program we are helping addicted inmates to reach a ‘stabilizing dose’ so they can successfully transition to a treatment program upon their release,” added Levinson. “If we can help move them towards treatment then there’s a far greater chance the cycle of addiction can be interrupted, if not broken, so they can lead productive lives outside the criminal justice system.”