New York Looks at Providing Medication-Assisted Treatment to all Prison and Jail Inmates
One of the major problems that thwarts the chances of the US recovering from the current opioid crisis is the issue with prison and jail inmates who are addicted to opioids following the initial prescription of opioid-based pain medication. Now officials in New York are toying with the idea of offering medication-assisted treatments to all current residents of their jails and prisons.
The problem with opioid addiction begins when physicians cease prescribing opioid-based pain medication to a patient. As withdrawal is tremendously difficult, such patients seek out illegal opioids such as heroin. Additionally, addicts turn to petty crime in order to afford the cost of buying illegal opioids, and when they are caught they are sent to jail or prison for punishment and rehabilitation.
Incarceration Simply Results in Withdrawal and Does Not Offer Help to Opioid Addicts
As opioids are more difficult to obtain in prison, addicts are forced to go through the withdrawal process. The effects of opioid withdrawal are terrible – one addict who went through withdrawal as a result of jail incarceration said: “I would rather give birth to all five of my children again without medication than go through withdrawal again.”
Even if opioid addicts are ‘clean’ when released, such is their dependency on opioids that they return to their ways of crime in order to afford street opioids, starting the whole cycle of dependency-crime-incarceration-withdrawal again.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed that around $3.75 million of the state’s budget be spent on medication-assisted treatment programs for inmates in jail, and a further $1 million for those in prison. Treatment programs are designed to help fight withdrawal and to remove the dependency on opioids, hence breaking the cycle of dependency.
A State Sponsored Medical-Assisted Program Would Help Addicts Break the Cycle of Dependency
Said spokesman Freeman Klopott: “The medication-assisted treatment program is just one prong of New York State’s $200 million, nation leading fight against opioid addiction that is implementing effective solutions to save lives.”
“Addiction is a disease. We should treat it like a disease,” said state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who is a Manhattan Democrat sponsoring the drug treatment legislation.
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