At-risk in­mates re­ceive OD drug when re­leased

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Don Babwin

CHICAGO» Chicago now gives at-risk in­mates the over­dose-re­vers­ing drug nalox­one upon their re­lease from jail and Los Angeles is poised to fol­low suit, putting the an­ti­dote in as many hands as pos­si­ble as part of a mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach to com­bat­ting the na­tion’s opi­oid epi­demic.

The Cook County Jail in Chicago, which is the largest sin­gle-site jail in the coun­try, has trained about 900 in­mates how to use nalox­one nasal spray de­vices since last sum­mer and has dis­trib­uted 400 of them to at-risk men and women as they got out. The de­vices can undo the ef­fects of an opi­ate over­dose al­most im­me­di­ately and are iden­ti­cal to those used by of­fi­cers in many of the coun­try’s law en­force­ment agen­cies.

Sher­iff Tom Dart, whose of­fice runs the jail, said ad­dicts are most at-risk of fa­tally over­dos­ing in the two weeks af­ter get­ting out be­cause of their time away from drugs while locked up.

“We’ve got to keep them alive (and) if we can get them through that twoweek win­dow, they might get treat­ment, get off drugs,” he said.

Dr. Con­nie Men­nella, the chair of Cor­rec­tional Health for the county’s health and hos­pi­tals sys­tem, which ad­min­is­ters the pro­gram, said only in­mates are be­ing trained to use nalox­one, but that she even­tu­ally hopes their rel­a­tives and friends can also be trained.

“We are try­ing to sat­u­rate this com­mu­nity with this drug and we are ed­u­cat­ing them to tell their buddy, mother, fa­ther how to use it, where they keep it and, ‘If you come home and see me not re­spond­ing, to go get it and use it,’ ” she said.

Pro­po­nents say such jail pro­grams can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween a for­mer in­mate liv­ing and dy­ing, as the nalox­one of­ten can be ad­min­is­tered by an over­dos­ing ad­dict, a friend or fam­ily mem­ber be­fore emer­gency re­spon­ders can reach them.

And Dr. Aras­tou Amin­zadeh, the cor­rec­tional health-med­i­cal di­rec­tor for the Los Angeles County De­part­ment of Health Ser­vices, said the kits are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for jus­tre­leased in­mates be­cause the same amount of drugs they once used to get high be­fore they were locked up could now kill them.

It is too soon to gauge the ef­fec­tive­ness of Cook County’s pro­gram, but Dart said anec­do­tal ev­i­dence sug­gests that the kits have saved lives, in­clud­ing a man who re­turned to jail, and told of how a friend he had trained to use the kit had done so when he OD’D.

BD

fof r o a ra sin­signlg e im­im­plpal­natn,t, abut­ment, and crown

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