For Opioid-Addicted Inmates, More Jails Rely On Vivitrol

March 30, 2017

Sixty-five percent of the U.S. prison population is addicted to drugs or alcohol, but only 11 percent receive treatment, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Germaine Jackson is one of those inmates. A recovering alcoholic, he was one of thousands to fall victim to the national opioid epidemic.

“It got to the point where I had no money, I had to steal to support my habit,” he says.

Jackson was convicted of larceny and sentenced to serve a year at Barnstable County Correctional Facility in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, where he participated the jail's Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) program.

Inmates in the program are separated from the rest of the jail population — they wear different uniforms, follow a military-style structure, and participate in behavioral therapy and drug education to prepare them for life on the outside.

“A lot of my friends are dropping like flies,” Jackson says. “I don't know what I'm going to be walking out to.”

Untreated inmates are 12 times more likely to overdose in the first two weeks after they are released. But a growing number of jails and prisons across the country may have a solution: a unique medication, called Vivitrol.

Vivitrol, also known as extended-release naltrexone, is a monthly injection that reduces opioid and alcohol cravings.