Grant Provides Medication-Assisted Treatment To Inmates Leaving Jail

By Kelly Burch 01/14/19

Inmates in the treatment program also leave jail with counseling appointments in place and other sobriety supports.

inmates waiting for medication-assisted treatment

The Wisconsin legislature is giving out $1.3 million in grant money that counties around the state will use to provide medication-assisted treatment for inmates who are leaving jails. 

The grants, administered through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, allow people who are ready to be released to receive an injection of Vivitrol, which can block opioid receptors in the brain and make people less likely to abuse opioids. Inmates in the program also leave jail with counseling appointments in place and other sobriety supports, according to Action News. 

"This is another great opportunity for an individual who wants to make a change to have the resources to be able to do it, and do it at a cost that they can afford," said Todd Delain, sheriff-elect in Brown County, Wisconsin, which includes Green Bay. "The Vivitrol is one piece of it. The counseling and ongoing monitoring treatment is the other part of it, because if you don't have both, they're probably not developing the skills and tools necessary to overcome it long-term.”

The program aims to help address the vulnerabilities of people who have just been released from a correctional facility, said Paul Krupski, director of opioid initiatives at the Department of Health Services.

"Specifically to the criminal justice population, they have a very high rate of opioid overdose and opioid overdose deaths upon release in the first 60-90 day period that they are out," he said.

Inmates seem eager to take advantage of the program, according to Wellpath, which provides health care services to jails. 

Jessica Jones, the company’s regional operations manager, said, "It really needs to be something the patient wants to do. It needs to be a lifestyle change they're ready to make. The medication is really 50 percent of this. The psych-social component is what they really need to be ready to dedicate themselves to.”

A pilot program has been taking place at the Brown County Jail, in partnership with Prevea Health. Over the past 18 months, that program has shown success, said Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai.

“I remember the first person, when one of our physicians came to me and said, we had our first graduate and that person got a job,” Rai said. "The whole intent here was to try to help people.” 

Vivitrol, in combination with therapy, can be a powerful tool for people looking to get into recovery, he said. 

"To get to the heart of addiction is really to get to counseling and what psychological aspect, as part of that disease, led to the addiction,” Rai said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.