Vermont Program Offers Vivitrol to Departing Inmates to Fight Heroin Addiction

Vermont is starting a pilot program this month that will offer the opioid addiction treatment Vivitrol to departing inmates at one correctional facility. If it is successful, the state plans to expand it to all seven of the state’s prisons, CBS News reports.

“Let’s start providing treatment and medicines that can actually get people back to productive lives,” Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said. In 2014, Shumlin devoted his State of the State Message to what he called Vermont’s “full-blown heroin crisis.” The number of people in the state who have been treated for heroin abuse has quadrupled in the past decade, the article notes.

Vermont’s pilot program will be funded as part of a three-year, $3 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Vivitrol can cost more than $1,000 a month, but many insurance companies and Medicaid cover it, according to the article.

About 100 jails and prisons nationwide are providing departing inmates with Vivitrol. The drug blocks receptors in the brain where opioids and alcohol attach, preventing the feelings of pleasure that these substances produce.

It is long-acting, which helps newly released inmates avoid going right back to opioid use during their first days of freedom. Vivitrol, unlike methadone and buprenorphine, does not produce a high, and cannot be diverted to street use.

A person must abstain from opioid use for seven to 10 days before starting Vivitrol, which is not a problem for prisoners who had to detox behind bars.

Vivitrol was first approved to treat alcoholism in 2006. It won approval from the Food and Drug Administration for opioid addiction in 2010. An estimated 15,000 take Vivitrol nationwide.

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    Fr. Jack Kearney

    January 21, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    What a great idea, tho I hope they are also referring people to treatment as well.

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