ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona inmates being offered drug to combat opioid addiction

Aug 4, 2017, 1:28 PM | Updated: 2:18 pm
FILE - This Oct. 19, 2016, file photo shows the packaging of Vivitrol at an addiction treatment cen...

FILE - This Oct. 19, 2016, file photo shows the packaging of Vivitrol at an addiction treatment center in Joliet, Ill. (AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson, File)

(AP Photo/Carla K. Johnson, File)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Corrections has begun using an anti-addiction drug to help inmates kick their opioid addictions for good.

“It’s all about recovery, reentry and rehabilitation,” Karen Hellman, the director of inmate programs and reentry, said.

“It’s aligned really well with two of the Gov. (Doug Ducey)’s really big initiatives, which are to reduce recidivism and to address the opioid crisis and they both crossover, so this particular program addresses both of those issues at the same time.”

Hellman said the drug, Vivitrol, is a once-a-month injection given to newly released inmates will help them overcome the cravings for opioids. The drug is administered as part of a new program where inmates undergo counseling to readjust to life on the outside.

“We’re hoping to serve, over the next two years, 100 inmates in this program,” Hellman said. “Then they’re connected with a community provider and they’re followed up in the community with that provider to continue to get the shot and also to go to counseling.”

Hellman said the drug helps, but keeping track of people undergoing treatment is crucial.

“Follow up is a huge component of this. This is all about them getting their life on track and remaining crime-free, drug-free, pro-social, good citizens for the rest of their life.”

Hellman said the program was developed and maintained through a multi-agency partnership.

“We have ADC, AHCCCS, and the local Mercy Maricopa involved in this because we needed all three entities to make sure that the handoff into the community was a good solid handoff so the released inmate will continue in the program, attending their counseling sessions and continue to get their injections.”

For Hellman, the use of an drug is new ground, one she is hoping will be key in helping the released inmates hold their own against addiction.

“That shot is in their system for 30 days,” she said. “It gives the addict the time to think through that decision to perhaps pick up and use again and for them to get to the point where they make the choice ‘OK, I’m not going to use again.'”

Vivitrol costs $1,300. Hellman said inmates sign up for Medicaid to help offset the cost.

“We pre-enroll them in AHCCCS prior to release, then the day that they’re released, their AHCCCS eligibility kicks in and then, as long as they remain on AHCCCS, AHCCCS will cover the cost of the shot for them, they may have a small co-pay, but it cover the bulk of the cost as long as they’re on AHCCCS.”

Hellman believes as long as the inmate continues and finishes the program, they will ultimately be able to lead a stabile life.

“Ideally, through the combination of the medicated assisted treatment, Vivitrol, and the actual counseling, they will get to the point where they will no longer need the injection, and they will have the tools and abilities to stay drug-free for the rest of their life.”

The first inmate participating in this program has already been administered Vivitrol and was scheduled to be released on Friday.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Christian Solorio (Alhambra Elementary School District photo)...
KTAR.com

Board of Supervisors appoints Christian Solorio to vacant Arizona House seat

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday appointed Christian Solorio to fill the Arizona House seat vacated by fellow Democrat Raquel Teran.
18 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/ADOT)...
KTAR.com

Westbound Interstate 10 reopens in Chandler following crash

A crash closed westbound Interstate 10 in Chandler for about an hour on Wednesday afternoon during rush hour.
18 hours ago
(Photo by Gene Lower/Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona Cardinals game to jam freeways Thursday evening for commuters

The Arizona Cardinals host the Green Bay Packers in the weekly Thursday night NFL game, an event that will jam metro Phoenix freeways during rush hour.
18 hours ago
(Tempe Police Department Photo/Facebook)...
KTAR.com

Teenage boy, 2-year-old killed in wrong-way crash on Tempe street

A teenage boy and a 2-year-old girl were killed in a wrong-way crash on a Tempe street earlier this week, authorities said.
18 hours ago
Adam Scott Delk (Glendale Police Department Photo)...
KTAR.com

Glendale police make arrest in suspected road rage shooting

Police have arrested a suspect in one of a recent spate of suspected road rage shootings in the West Valley.
18 hours ago
(Photo provided by the Federal Bureau Investigations Violent Crimes Task Force)...
KTAR.com

Suspect in more than 20 Arizona ‘Back Again Bandit’ bank robberies arrested

A suspect in more than 20 bank robberies attributed to the "Back Again Bandit," most in metro Phoenix, was arrested Monday, authorities said.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
PNC Bank

3 cool tips to turn everyday moments into learning experiences for your child

Early brain development has a crucial impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by age five.
...
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
...
BARROW NEUROLOGICAL INSTITUTE

More stroke patients eligible for acute treatment, thanks to research

Historically, patients underwent acute stroke treatments according to strict time guidelines. But thanks to recent advancements in stroke research, more patients are becoming candidates for clot-busting drugs and endovascular therapy at specialized centers like Barrow Neurological Institute.
Arizona inmates being offered drug to combat opioid addiction