New drug program for addiction at jail

Photo by Todd Luck Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neil and Clerk of Court Susan Frye are hoping a new program can help address addiction and reduce recidivism.

New drug program for addiction at jail
July 26
02:00 2018

A new partnership between pharmaceutical company Alkermes and the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office will be offering drug-assisted treatment for addiction.

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neil talked about the new program with Forsyth County commissioners at their briefing last week. It’s designed to help the large population with substance abuse issues that ends up in the Forsyth County Detention Center by offering them treatment instead of incarceration.

“As a society, we probably have evolved in terms of how we look at addiction and how we  approach it in terms of combating it,” said O’Neill.

The program has a case manager that screens inmates, looking for those addicted to heroine, opioids or alcohol. The DA’s Office would review their cases to determine who qualifies.

Those who qualify and agree to join would start 14 days after arriving at the jail, when they’d normally have their first court hearing. Instead they’ll be given a naloxone tablet to make sure there’s no impaired substances left in their system. The next day they’ll be given a shot of Alkermes’ drug, Vivitrol. The once monthly shot is an opioid blocker used to help fight addiction. It’s a non-narcotic, so it can be administered in jail. They’re held for observation for 24 hours after the first shot.

Then the patient is released to ARCA (Addiction Recovery Care Association) for in-patient treatment or to Daymark Recovery Services or Insight Human Service for out-patient service.

Probation and parole officers will also be checking on them. Those who successfully complete the program, which is expected to take at least 12 months, will have their charges dropped.

O’Neill said he expects some relapses along the way, but is hoping for a high rate of success by the time participants complete the program.

Vivitrol is not cheap, at around $1,000 a shot. O’Neil said that Alkermes will help cover the costs of those not covered by Medicaid or private insurance for the additional shots patients receive after their release from jail. O’Neill said on July 19 that he’s asking the county for $250,000 to cover the cost of the case manager and the medication.

Clerk of Court Susan Frye, who helped conceive the program with O’Neill, said that other programs she’s seen in other states use the drug in prison. Offering a treatment pre-adjudication will make it a unique pilot program.

O’Neill said that the program brings both county and community resources together in a way that he hopes will decrease recidivism, reduce opioid addiction and lead to less inmates in the county jail.


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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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