Maryland County Jails Start Administering Vivitrol

By McCarton Ackerman 10/08/15

A staggering amount of inmates are in need of medication-assisted treatment.

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Eight county jails throughout Maryland now have access to the heroin treatment drug Vivitrol, and are hopeful that it will give inmates a better chance at becoming productive citizens once they are released.

The Vivitrol access was provided through a $50,536 grant announced last June by Gov. Larry Hogan. Funding for it was provided through the state’s new Medication-Assisted Treatment Program. Vivitrol is injected once per month and cost anywhere from $800-$1,500 per shot.

Frederick County is one of the recipients of the funding. David Brooks, clinical treatment supervisor for the Frederick County Adult Detention Center’s Project 103 treatment program, said the shots of Vivitrol are given to inmates who have enrolled in or completed this program, applied for health insurance while serving their sentence, and signed a form agreeing to continue treatment upon release. Anyone receiving Vivitrol before their release will continue to get medical help from the county health department.

“This has given us a chance to link all of our services in the county together,” said Brooks. “The day they are released, they already have appointments set for everything. This makes the treatment cohesive from inside the walls to outside.”

A staggering 65% of inmates in the detention center’s Project 103 program are seeking help for heroin or opioid dependency. A study released last year by the Department of Mental Health and Mental Hygiene’s Vital Statistics Administration showed that an inmate receiving Vivitrol before their release is especially important because addicted inmates were at much greater risk of overdosing immediately after being removed from jail.

A 2011 study paid for by Alkermes Inc., the manufacturer of the drug, showed that Vivitrol helped opiate addicts stay drug-free for longer periods of time. Researchers found that 94% of the 250 participants given Vivitrol were able to stay drug-free after an initial two weeks, compared to 77% who were given a placebo.

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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.