Oregon’s recovery community is holding a summit in Portland Thursday to discuss opioid addiction in the state. One idea surfacing is helping inmates use their jail time to kick their habit.
Jail time for opioid addicts tends to be short: three days to a couple of weeks.
Jordan Hansen with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation said that means people often start going through withdrawal while they are in jail.
“Very rarely is this treated with anything other than Gatorade and some Advil,” Hansen said. “But what ends up happening is when people are discharged, oftentimes they’re still in withdrawal and their tolerance has gone down. They’re at a huge risk [for] overdose and death.”
Some states have started programs to provide medication to incoming prisoners, which makes withdrawal less painful.
Withdrawal can also last months. Staying on the medication reduces cravings and helps people stay on the straight-and-narrow after they leave jail.
Some corrections departments are reluctant because some medications have street value and can be diverted for misuse. But there are slow-release medications that discourage misuse and have little street value.