GREENFIELD – A Greenfield, Massachusetts jail will become the first county jail to administer methadone treatment to inmates addicted to opioids.
Along with methadone, the facilities will also treat addicted inmates with Suboxone and Vivitrol, which have also proven effective in curbing cravings.
According to WGBH, the Greenfield prison is one of seven county prisons who have received a license to treat inmates as part of a new pilot program set to run for four years.
While the Greenfield jail will have a clinic in-house with proper drug storage, the other county prisons will receive the medications on a daily basis.
Correctional facilities in Middlesex, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex counties will all take part in the pilot that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker last summer.
The pilot is aimed at combating a high rate of deaths due to drug overdoses in newly released inmates as well as incoming inmates with opioid addictions.
Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who has been part of the Medication Assisted Treatment and Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) Program for the last four years, has witnessed first hand the success a program like this can bring.
“We've had well over 500 people go through our program, and the results have been phenomenal,” Koutoujian said. “This [pilot] is taking Massachusetts to a new level of leadership in corrections with regard to substance use disorder and harm reduction.”
“We need to meet individuals where they're at in their recovery,” Koutoujian shared. “And if we're not willing to take a chance, then we're not going to be able to treat this disease and keep people alive in the way that we need to in corrections.”
Adding, “Everyone knows someone that has died as a result of an overdose,” he said. “This is not just about public safety, this is also about corrections providing harm reduction opportunities.”
Massachusetts is the latest state to implement the use of methadone within their correctional facilities. Rhode Island, Vermont and some Connecticut jails are also dispensing medication for the treatment of opioid addiction.
This news comes as the city of Boston is debating how best to handle its population of homeless addicts along Methadone Mile in the South End, while drug paraphernalia is littered around the Boston Common. There's been debate over the past month about whether police efforts like Operation Clean Sweep are effective.
Image via Flickr / USAID Vietnam