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Prison using drugs to help drug-addicted prisoners

CINCINNATI (AP) – "The boys in charge" are coming near the prison and are waiting for newly-opened addicted prisoners. You will get a free sample to bring you back. Drug Reuse Triggers – The corners you use for one – are all around, and all plans for a new start easily evaporate.

"This is black and white," said Ashley Pels, a prisoner in Hamilton County, looking around the woman's basement. Release yourself, she said, and "it's like" The Wizard of Oz. "

The opioid receptors in her brain simply "come on," she said, and her cravings were repulsive.

There is a high probability of return after release, and some will die. If they survive, three out of four former prisoners like Pelas will return to their dependence – and potentially return to the crimes committed to support their addiction.

It's a vicious cycle for addicts and their families, the one who has the security, financial and other consequences for the rest of society. But since May, prison service providers in Hamilton County have been using drugs to interrupt the relationship.

Fifty-two inmates now receive buprenorphine, a drug approved by the FDA, which needs to relieve craving. They represent about 3% of the daily population of the prison.

It may look like a small number and a simple change. However, the prison health care provider, NaphCare, is part of the programs for starting treatment behind the lattice.

Closures and closures across the country are slowly included in this type of drug treatment, and drug addicts say it is wrong.

Medical studies show that buprenorphine and other opioid remedies can prevent people from overdosing and death.

"Addiction is a disease, even if an individual does not have access to substances during jail, the disease remains untreated," said Lindsey Vuolo, director of Health and Legal Policy Center for Addiction, a national non-profit organization. evidence-based drug policy development.

"Within three months after being released from custody, 75% of people in jail or opiate-use disorder experience opiate back pain," said Jon Berg, Public Health Adviser at the US Drug Enforcement and Mental Health Administration . .

However, the latest information from the US Department of Justice shows that only 1 out of 20 prisons and prisons across the country offer drug addiction. Only 1 out of 200 people offer buprenorphine with naloxone, known by its name as Suboxone.

This is because buprenorphine, classified as opioid, is often evaluated by judicial officials as a simple substitute for heroin or other drugs. Medical experts say this is not true: buprenorphine stabilizes people and allows them to function normally without euphoria when properly and properly taken.

"I did not believe it," Albany, New York, Sheriff Craig Apple, who speaks nationally about the opiate epidemic for a national law enforcement partnership, a body that promotes criminal justice solutions. Now he knows.

In 2012, Apple initiated its Sheriff's heroin-dependent recovery program, providing counseling and non-narcotic medicine, naltrexon approved by the FDA (known as Vivitrol) in prison. When the prisoners were released, they moved them directly to treatment centers.

The sheriff saw the direct fall of these prisoners who returned to prison.

But since December 2018 Apple has expanded its program to all drugs approved by the FDA, including opioids buprenorphine and methadone.

And the current rate of recidivism – or rate of return to prison – among those who received treatment is 16 percent. It is 12 to 20 percent, Apple says.

"Addiction does not make them commit a crime," Apple said. "Lack of money and the ability to feed their highs is what it is."

The prisoners in Hamilton County, addiction medicine can mean another chance for life.

"I can not do it without medical support," Pels said. "I will die.

"It's a disease and it's a progressive disease," she said. "It's sleepy if you treat it, but if you do not heal it, it's just progressing."

NaphCare has begun to use buprenorphine to facilitate the retreating of prisoners last year, but those who were prescribed were refused after the withdrawal. The new plan allows prisoners to stay on the drug as an everyday treatment, said Brad McLane, chief administrator of the company.

The company in Birmingham, Alabama, has or has developed 20 drug treatment programs around the country. The latest in the districts of Hamilton, Montgomery and Franklin in Ohiou, while others are in Washington, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Georgia, Florida and Nevada.

While programs throughout the country are still scarce, support for law enforcement officials with medication behind bars is getting swollen.

As someone who struggles with addiction for about seven years, Pels understands the value of buprenorphine. She remained in recovery for six months while prescribing her medicine.

"It helps to cleanse this fog. It gets to places that do not concentrate so much on craving and achieving high levels," Pels said. "I concentrated when I went to the meetings when I went to group therapy or one at a time. I focused on recovery."

Ohio is slowly getting more drug-assisted healing in prisons through federal money secured this year, said Ellen Augspurger, who is the director of the Ohio Opioid Response Program.

Butler district, for example, now provides buprenorphine for pregnant women, shows state records. Some prisons offer just the form of injecting drug because it can not be diverted to abuse by the inmates.

NaphCare has staff trained to provide all approved medicines, McLane said. In Hamilton District, it covers expenses as part of a $ 7.5 million annual prison contract.

"If you are in a program where you take buprenorphine or methadone and if you keep on drugs, we want to continue," he said.

The effort continues after the jail. NaphCare co-operates with Talbert House, a recruiting advisory organization to connect drug inmates after their release.

McLane helped persuade the state medical committee of Ohio to abolish buprenorphine treatment rules in prisons and other short-term treatment centers, such as emergency departments.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil supports the NaphCare plan.

"County Prison is the zero point for opiates and synthetics," Neil said, "because this addictive culture finds the way to the county prison with their behavior. That's something that controls them and what they do."

If more people were treated and continued with treatment, he said, less will return to jail, and chronic overcrowding can be reduced.

A program similar to the Hamilton County is located in Northern Kentucky.

Kenton Prison uses a treatment plan with the help of medicines proclaimed the first in the nation as a partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

And in Warren County, a joint trial judge Robert Peeler, who pioneered the use of injection naltrexone in 2013 for his Drug Court, said opioid addicts could now be treated with methadone or buprenorphine.

Peeler, a powerful drug advocate, made a change after the Ohija Supreme Court encouraged her to use it.

Prison programs make sense, addiction experts say.

"Any break in the recovery process will increase the chances of returning," McLane said.

Women are being educated on all drugs that are approved for opiate addiction, while in prison in Hamilton County they specialize.

"Everyone has his own opinion of what he wants to do," said Samantha Thomas, a 37-year-old inmate who spent time in the Mayan mob. "A lot of girls said they helped Suboxone stay long (no drugs)."

Knowing opportunities gives them hope, she said. Many women say they are afraid of leaving the prison without medicines for their addiction.

Pels intends to try to prevent recidivism when released in mid-July: she will seek oral naltrexone medication a few days before leaving. It blocks the effects of opiates and helps her stay in recovery for two years, the last time she is prescribed.

Then, when she is ready to go, she will have to give her a mentor to pick her up at the prison door and take her straight to the naltrexone injection doctor, which is stronger and more durable than the pill form.

Thomas, who is now in jail, intends to come up with a similar plan because she is afraid of leaving.

"I do not know sober people out of prison," she said. "I'm out of the city center, so I'm getting up here." So walking through this door, yes, I'm automatically on the dungeon. "

"I take this very seriously. I'm serious about life and death," Thomas said. "Because that's what's for me."


Information from: Cincinnati Enquirer,

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