Maryland Sets Aside $500,000 to Treat Addicted Inmates

By McCarton Ackerman 06/04/15

The money will go towards treating inmates weaning off heroin and other drugs with naltrexone.

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The administration for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced this week that the state is allotting a $500,000 federal grant to help treat inmates struggling with drug addiction.

Jail programs in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties will be the benefits of the funding. The money will go towards treating inmates weaning off heroin and other drugs with naltrexone, a non-narcotic and non-addictive medicine that blocks the effect of opiates while reducing cravings for them. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention also confirmed that an unspecified amount of funding has been allotted for a similar medication-assisted treatment program in Baltimore.

Selected inmates under the program will receive monthly injections of naltrexone, while all interested inmates will have the medication administered to them within three months of their release date. Pharmaceutical company Alkermes, Inc., which makes naltrexone under the name Vivitrol, is donating the initial doses for the program.

"By helping men and women who've done their time to get back on their feet, MAT Re-entry programs protect the families of former inmates from the abuse and instability associated with drug dependency,” said Hogan in a statement. “[We will] reduce the spiraling costs of drug-related crime and recidivism on our state and local governments.”

The program is especially timely as heroin deaths continue to rise throughout Maryland. The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported 578 heroin overdose deaths last year, almost 56% of all the drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths in the state for 2014. The number of heroin-related deaths was also 25% higher than in 2013 and more than double the total in 2010.

Other parts of the country are also spending big bucks to help treat addicted inmates. Last December, New York City Bill de Blasio announced plans to spend $130 million to offer drug addiction and mental illness treatment for inmates. The biggest part of his initiative is to build two drop-off treatment centers for low-level offenders, but he acknowledged that it will be a long process before the centers open.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.