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Why Are Drugs to Treat Opioid Addiction Not Available in Some Federal Prisons?

The First Step Act was passed by Congress in 2018. This act included a wide range of prison reforms. These reforms included the requirement for federal prisons to increase the ease of access to suitable medications to help inmates who enter their facilities addicted to opioids. Despite opinions to the contrary, opioids are not easy to obtain in federal prisons, which leaves freshly-incarcerated inmates going through the horrors of withdrawal or putting them under threat of an overdose if they do manage to illicitly obtain opioid-based narcotics.

Despite Being Required to Offer Help to Opioid Addicts, Federal Prisons are Failing to do so

A recent investigation into the success of such measures has identified an immediate stumbling block. Despite being a requirement for over three years now, only a small percentage of those eligible for such treatments are actually receiving them. There seems a reluctance by federal prison authorities to put such measures in practice—using the typical inertia of bureaucracy as a means of delaying their activation.

It is estimated that around 15,000 federal prison inmates are eligible for the program. As of July 2021, the number of people on the program was just 268—around two percent. The question has to be asked – why? Both methadone and buprenorphine have been proven to be effective tools in the fight against opioid addiction as they deaden the cravings and the effects associated with opioids while helping addicts cope with life without opioids. However, there has been little increase in their availability in federal prisons.

There is a Reluctance to Help Opioid Addicts as Addiction is not Considered to be a Disease

The typical solution for inmates with opioid misuse issues in federal prisons has always been abstinence based. Many administrators have taken the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ stance despite being required to change their thinking and evidence that an abstinence-based approach is indeed ‘broke’. It is this reluctancy and hostility towards the use of methadone and buprenorphine that needs to be addressed.

“They don’t see it necessarily as a medical disease that has highly effective treatment,” said Michael Botticelli, former director of National Drug Control Policy. “If this were any other medical condition, would we see this level of lethargy in terms of implementing what is the standard of care of treatment for a disease?”

If your life has been affected by opioids, there is no longer any reason for you to suffer. Contact Advanced Rapid Detox to learn more about our advanced rapid opioid detoxification program. Contact us at (800) 603-1813 or online here.