Hancock County looks to fight drug epidemic with Vivitrol program

HANCOCK COUNTY, IN—An effort to curb central Indiana’s drug epidemic with an injection and keep drug addicts from ending up back in jails is prompting Hancock County to look to start a program that’s already seen success in other parts of the state.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said the primary goal is helping those addicted, but also hopes in the long term the program helps alleviate jail overcrowding.

“Nowhere to walk and stuff and girls bump into each other getting trays and everything,” Ny’Rika Hopkins said.

At last check, the 26-year old was one of more than 200 inmates for a facility with a bed rated space of 157 and a recidivism rate the sheriff’s office said is about 67 percent.

“We can’t get a handle on, you know, that society that problem of addiction to keep them from coming back if we could stop some of that,” Chief Deputy Major Brad Burkhart said.

Burkhart said they’re asking the county for a new jail and working to start a new drug treatment program.

“So our hope is with Vivitrol their treatment success their longevity and recovery will increase and we won’t be seeing them back,” Amy Ikerd, a court treatment specialist for Hancock County Probation, said.

The county wants inmates released into specific programs to receive up to two Vivitrol injections at no cost to them. The medication is geared to help curb addiction cravings and play part in a treatment program.

“Nationwide, about three years ago there was 50 counties that were using this program. Today there’s about 300 and we anticipate by the end of the year potentially 500,” Dr. Timothy Kelly, the director of addiction treatment services at Community Health Network, said.

Similar programs are already in place in Boone and Madison Counties.

“So we’re sitting right at about a 60 percent success rate right now which is extremely high when compared to suboxone or some of the methadone or some of the other options,” Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger said.

Ikerd said the program in Hancock County would be state funded and hopes to have it in place in about 30-60 days.

Major Burkhart said there will be a public meeting on the new jail April 18th at the county annex.