By Beth Lawrence
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has been approved for a grant that would allow the department to create a medication assisted program to treat addiction among Detention Center detainees.
In February, county commissioners approved Sheriff Doug Farmer’s request to apply for a state Department of Public Safety grant to help his office create a drug treatment program for inmates.
Earlier this month Farmer was notified that the application was approved.
Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety for administration of the funds at their May 16 regular meeting.
“I think this is a win-win for those that find themselves with a substance abuse issue for us to have something available here in our jail facility,” Farmer said. “We also, if they come in and they’re already on a plan, be it suboxone or something like that, we honor that if it’s under a doctor’s orders, we honor that already. This (program) just gives us another option for them, not only for those that may have an opioid disorder but also for those who have an alcoholic disorder as well.”
When making the initial presentation in February, Farmer described establishing the program as an opportunity to not only help addicts begin the work of recovery while in jail but to also ward off litigation. Other detention facilities and prisons have been sued in recent years for not providing support to inmates battling addiction.
Initially Farmer applied for $1,481,364 to implement the program and coordinate support for participants. He was awarded $493,788 to begin the work. That amount will cover the salary for a coordinator to run the program and 162 doses of Vivitrol. That number of doses could help approximately 13 inmates over the three-year course of the grant provided they each took the medication for a year.
The medication assistance treatment program would provide injections of the 30-day-long acting drug Vivitrol to detainees who want to participate in the rehabilitation program; the program would also coordinate outside support from services such as behavioral health or housing specialists during incarceration and post release help to secure housing, find a job and maintain the medication helping them remain sober.
MAT plans offer patients with a substance use disorder either a replacement drug to help mitigate withdrawals and wean themselves off drugs or a medication that inhibits the effects of the drug they misuse. The most well-known MAT drugs, suboxone and methadone work as replacements. Other types called antagonists inhibit the high by blocking the receptors in the brain that cause the high.
Ideally, the person receiving MAT should work on their recovery through counseling and support programs. Participants in NCDPS’s program are required to use the support assistance.
NCDPS allows only Vivitrol, an antagonist, to be used in medication assistance treatments. Vivitrol contains naltrexone which blocks receptors. Naltrexone is nonnarcotic and nonaddictive. Unlike other medication treatments for drug misuse, Vivitrol works for alcohol misuse in addition to narcotics.
Farmer has not said when he expects the program to be up and running.