BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — People fighting drug addictions behind bars in Boone County now have a new tool to help them when it’s time for their release. Multiple agencies are working together to bridge a gap for inmates and help end what they call a heroin epidemic in central Indiana.
The Boone County sheriff, community corrections and probation program have offered drug treatment to inmates for more than 20 years, but often those inmates are becoming repeat offenders instead of recovered addicts. Now, Boone County leaders are hoping an injection called Vivitrol will be key to unlocking a new life after jail.
“When the inmates come here, frankly, I don’t want them back. So when we release them and they go to community corrections or probation we definitely want to see them succeed and give back to society,” Boone County Sheriff Mike Neilsen said.
Sheriff Neilsen said the county’s in-house programs give inmates hope.
“But as soon as they leave the jail there’s a huge pitfall,” Michael Nance, executive director of community corrections, said.
That’s where Vivitrol comes in.
“This is an extended release injection,” Penny Rader, program director for probation and community corrections, said. “It’s an opiate blocker.”
The injection is given 48 hours prior to release and it dulls any urges a person may have to use after leaving jail.
“And if they do happen to fall and they do happen to use, they don’t feel the effect or the high if they have that Vivitrol injection,” Sheriff Neilsen said.
The injection was approved as a treatment for alcohol addicts 10 years ago and then for opioid dependence in 2010, but until recently Boone county leaders said funding was difficult to come by for the jails, as well as for the inmates after their release, when a second injection is needed. Now thanks to a $90,000 grant awarded to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and programs like the new Healthy Indiana Plan, also known as HIP 2.0, the pieces are all in place.
“I think it’s a real opportunity for our clients in our county to get the help that they desperately need and desperately want as well,” Nance said.
The injection is part of a larger commitment for the inmates, including 90 days of treatment in the jail and then continued monitoring for up to a year after time-served. It’s not a sure thing, but for the sheriff and his partners it’s another tool to offer as the fight against drugs continues.
“It is one person at a time. We have a saying ‘One day at a time’, but it’s also one person at a time,” Rader said.
The injection has been available since July 1 at the Boone County Jail. Community corrections and probation has already received several applications from inmates to take part in the program.
Several other counties in Indiana are using Vivitrol too. Most recently, Madison County started offering it in January.