Indiana Jail Considering Medication Assisted Treatment For Addicted Inmates

Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, is no longer the wave of the future. It’s being used right now, all over the country, to help longtime addicts and alcoholics finally begin recovery.

Medication Assisted Treatment is part of a progressive trend that views substance abuse as a brain disease. It uses prescription drugs to aid with detox, reduce cravings, and restore the brain to normal functioning. It reduces recidivism rates for persons arrested for opioid related offenses, and officials in Fort Wayne, Indiana have taken note.

A Vicious Cycle

For Allen County Criminal Court Judge Wendy Davis, it’s a tired routine. She sees the same defendants again and again every few months. They’re addicted to painkillers or heroin, and go to jail for offenses related to their drug use. After they sweat out a horrible cold turkey detox, they serve their time and are released. Then, not long afterward, they’re arrested again for similar offenses.

It’s a vicious cycle of arrest, jail, and relapse. These perpetual defendants can’t stop getting high. Opioid cravings are simply too powerful, especially once heroin or prescription painkillers have altered the user’s brain chemistry. These people need help, and Judge Davis and others want to give it to them.

Medicated Assisted Treatments Give Hope to a Community

A monthly treatment called the Vivitrol shot has proven effective in other Indiana counties, and Judge Davis wants to duplicate these results. Vivitrol is a long acting form of Naltrexone, a drug that reduces opioid withdrawal and cravings. Essentially, it gives these addicts a fighting chance.

It works like this. Inmates are given a Vivitrol shot just prior to their release. They’re also given monthly follow up injections and connected to county recovery supports. The reduced cravings allow these inmates to return to a normal life, which in turn lowers the taxpayer burden to the tune of millions of dollars a year.

Medicated Assisted Treatment programs have worked in other Indiana counties, with success rates that are significantly higher than defendants going it alone. Judge Davis and other Allen County officials want to give their community this same chance.