BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – Fighting drugs with drugs. Boone County is set to launch a new treatment program for opioid addicts in jail on Friday, July 1.
A $97,500 state grant will provide funds for those who participate in the program to get an initial injection of the medication Vivitrol before their release.
Vivitrol works by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain, cutting cravings, and keeping addicts from getting a euphoric high. If they shoot up, they won’t feel anything, leaders say.
“If they used heroin, they wouldn’t get the euphoric effects of the heroin drugs,” said Penny Rader, Program Director, with Boone County Community Corrections.
Rader worked for years to get a medication assisted treatment program available in the Boone County Jail. In her two decades of work as a counselor, she says she’s never seen a drug epidemic like this one.
“It is a very, very serious problem, and it’s life or death,” said Rader, “I would’ve never guessed when I started here that we would be facing what we’re facing now with the heroin now.”
Vivitrol is non-addicting, she says.
Injections are recommended every 28 days for up to a year. The cost of the first injection is covered by the grant.
The target population for Boone County is 40 to 50 people in year one.
“We’re not just medicating our clients in the jail. We’re actually giving them drug and alcohol treatment,” said Michael Nance, Executive Director of Boone County Community Corrections, “I don’t think that any of our clients want to be heroin addicts. There is a misconception out there, why don’t you stop using. They can’t stop using. They are physically addicted.”
Madison County started a similar program earlier this year. The drug’s manufacturer pays for the first injection. Circuit Court 4 Judge David Happe says the initial results have been very positive.
“We’ve been able to get people on a path where they can financially get access to the drug and start their treatment, which enables them to get back to work and back in connection with their family,” said Happe.
Leaders in Boone County hope they see similar results.
“We’re losing people and young people and kids every day to heroin addiction and heroin overdoses. It is the main problem that we need to figure out a way to combat at this time,” said Nance.