Addressing opioid addiction


From this article: “A prison system offered all inmates addiction treatment. Overdose deaths dropped sharply.”

The program offers inmates methadone and buprenorphine (opioids that reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms), as well as naltrexone, which blocks people from getting high.

Many law enforcement officials have resisted giving methadone and buprenorphine to inmates because they are also opioids — despite the evidence that shows they are effective medications to treat opioid use disorders — and because they worry about the diversion of the medications, particularly buprenorphine, which is also known as Suboxone.

That approach seems to mimic an approach (those dirty) French tried back in the 90s.

In the 1980s, France went through a heroin epidemic in which hundreds of thousands became addicted. Mohamed Mechmache, a community activist, described the scene in the poor banlieues back then: “To begin with, they would disappear to shoot up. But after a bit we’d see them all over the place, in the stairwells and halls, the bike shed, up on the roof with the washing lines. We used to collect the syringes on the football pitch before starting to play,” he told The Guardian in 2014.

The rate of overdose deaths was rising 10 percent a year, yet treatment was mostly limited to counseling at special substance-abuse clinics.

In 1995, France made it so any doctor could prescribe buprenorphine without any special licensing or training. Buprenorphine, a first-line treatment for opioid addiction, is a medication that reduces cravings for opioids without becoming addictive itself.