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Author Topic: methadone in jail, number two  (Read 3534 times)

Offline clinton (OP)

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methadone in jail, number two
« on: November 30, 2015, 12:54:37 AM »

For over two decades I have provided weekly clinical care to prisoners at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. This experience of meeting thousands of patients has confirmed the epidemiological data suggesting that over half of all current prisoners have an addiction problem. About one in seven has opioid dependence, a consistent and predictable, all-consuming, chronic relapsing and potentially fatal brain disease.

The current epidemic of opioid dependence has been driven by the flooding of the market with increased prescribing of pharmaceutical opioids. Regulatory pressures that have encouraged physicians to prescribe opioids for the management of chronic pain, along with unscrupulous profit-motivated pharmaceutical industry practices, have created this problem. The rise in opioid prescription has had disastrous consequences including unprecedented rates of overdose deaths, which have led to physicians finally starting to reduce their prescribing. The use of prescription monitoring programs as well as increasing physician education and other interventions will also decrease new initiates, but that is unlikely to help those already dependent. Wide distribution of naloxone, an antidote that can be given in an acute overdose; Good Samaritan laws that encourage people to call 911 without fear of arrest; and educating people about how to prevent overdose including not mixing opioids with alcohol or other sedatives will all help save lives, but not tackle the underlying cause.
As physicians clamp down on the availability of prescription opioids, most opioid users will turn to the less-expensive and often more readily-available option of heroin. Their heroin use typically begins with sniffing of powder heroin and then, as their use increases with increasing tolerance, there is often a transition to injecting heroin, which makes for even greater health risks. Many eventually turn to one or more of three basic activities to support their habit: getting involved in the sex trade, the drug trade or stealing.

My patients who have cycled in and out of the incarcerated setting because of opioid dependence provide a vivid description of why recidivism rates are so high. When I ask them if are they planning to relapse to heroin use after release, the answer is invariably "no." But when I ask them what happened the last number of times they've been released from incarceration, the answer is that they have always eventually relapsed to opioid use, despite the best intentions not to.

Most never received treatment, which is more effective than incarceration in the long run and likely even the short run. In either case we should at a minimum coordinate efforts between the criminal justice system and the drug treatment system to work toward the same goal: getting people to stop their illegal and dangerous behavior.

One obvious example of where we are not doing what we can is in the use of methadone among incarcerated populations. Methadone has had a 50-plus-year track record of use in the treatment of opioid dependence. It is highly effective at reducing illicit opioid use and many of the dangerous associated behaviors and outcomes including overdose and death. But in this country, in most jurisdictions, people are forced off of methadone upon incarceration, even prior to conviction, causing predictable painful withdrawal, and putting them at increased risk for relapse and overdose death after release. The Baltimore City jail was a notable exception, as it provided methadone to prisoners since before 2008, but that is not the case with most county jails throughout Maryland.

In the May 29 online issue of the medical journal The Lancet, colleagues and I reported results of a one-month randomized clinical trial comparing continued methadone with forced withdrawal from methadone for people who were in treatment at the time of incarceration. The results show that of those who were on methadone at the time of release, 100 percent continued methadone treatment in the community whereas less than half of those forced off of methadone returned to the methadone clinic, and even at one month this was cost effective.

Ultimately we should move to be more in line with the rest of the world and treat addiction, in particular opioid dependence, as the medical disease it is, rather than as a crime. However in the meantime, we should at least strive to link people to effective treatment at every stage along the continuum — from arrest to reentry and probation or parole. This is good clinical care, good public health and good public safety.
In the vein...

Offline Chip

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Re: methadone in jail, number two
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2015, 01:01:43 AM »
hear, hear.

making good sense !
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Offline Sand and Water

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Re: methadone in jail, number two
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2015, 10:08:00 AM »
::standing ovation::  I hope you and your colleagues continue (what is imo already common sense fer crying out loud) these efforts.  There are SO many affected (indirectly too), by these draconian & inhumane policies--from your lips to whoever's ears, that yours & other groups, are able to put enough political pressure on state and federal leaders so the very few exceptions, quickly become the new "norm". 

Thanks for a great HR post!
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Re: methadone in jail, number two
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 02:05:21 PM »
I really hope that the political parties involved start listening to scientific studies for once in their career and do the sensible thing.

Offline DeadCat

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Re: methadone in jail, number two
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2015, 03:58:41 PM »
How about NOT ARRESTING "sick" people for being "sick?"

Once you are incarcerated for a felony in the US it is likely you will be a "recidivist" and a large part of of that is because you will be marginalized from the regualr work force, cut off from many public services (housing, food stamps, college grant money, etc.) and FAR less likely to get a decent job.

The US had 5% of the world's poulation and we consume 65% of the psychoactive drugs, legal and illegal. Do we just happen to have more "sick" people or do he have a sick society that people are self-medicating to deal with?  We never ask ourselves that question but instead focus on "fixing" the user not the conditions that make using an appealing choice.

Sure, give methodone or buprenorphine by prescription to those already drug dependent and offer detox but as long as our culture is what it is, people will seek to escape it psychically if not physicly.

That being said, it's good to see someone involved in the penal system looking to make improvements, so good for you on that front.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 04:03:41 PM by DeadCat »

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Re: methadone in jail, number two
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2015, 04:32:08 PM »
I really hope that the political parties involved start listening to scientific studies for once in their career and do the sensible thing.

Their job is to reflect the opinion and supposed "beliefs" of their constituencies, so wishful thinking but this will never happen.  Unfortunately.  You would imagine the public would have a greater respect for science, but America is wondering why we have lagged SO far behind in Math+Sciences for decades now while our greater public shows a stronger preference for moralism and superstition, while trying to regulate these as part of school curriculum
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 04:33:48 PM by _Enduser »

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