Kenton County jail could be the first in Northern Kentucky to introduce a medication-assisted treatment for inmates with heroin addiction.
Kenton officials told a committee of lawmakers who held a hearing on the state’s heroin law Monday that they’re gearing up for an addiction treatment model with 70 beds at the county jail and promised Vivitrol for inmates as they are released.
The non-narcotic medicine blocks opiate receptors, eliminating the effect of heroin. It’s becoming more popular as a heroin-addiction fix because it isn’t narcotics-based, and it’s proving to help opiate and prescription-painkiller addicts fight addiction.
“Kenton County will start a comprehensive drug treatment program involving Vivitrol,” Jailer Terry Carl told legislative committee members who held their hearing at the Grateful Life Center, a Transitions Inc. addiction rehabilitation center for men in Erlanger.
The jail is planning to begin within weeks setting aside 70 of its current beds for heroin addicts. Inmates will enter a substance abuse program; those who are deemed appropriate candidates for Vivitrol will start on the medicine as they are released.
They will continue in outpatient care, which will be arranged in advance of their release, said Jason Merrick, the jail’s new director of inmate addiction services. The Vivitrol will be provided free by the manufacturer.
The manufacturers have committed to providing samples of the medication until state funding comes through, Merrick told legislators. The Kentucky Department of Justice in the process of allocating the Vivitrol funding promised through Senate Bill 192, the comprehensive heroin bill that was made law and went into effect in March.
The corrections-based effort is one effort in a multipronged approach in Northern Kentucky that has launched taking action against heroin. Kenton County has recently started a broader approach with Boone and Campbell counties, creating the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
Director Kim Moser outlined for legislators at Monday’s committee meeting the need for focused attention in Northern Kentucky.
She noted that after adjusting for population, Northern Kentucky suffered the most overdose deaths related to heroin out of every county in the commonwealth in 2013 and 2014.
She added, “Nothing has been more surprising to us as the utilization of the NKY methadone (Med) Clinic.”
Moser characterized as “astounding” that nearly 1,200 clients pass through the Covington-based clinic every day for methadone. She said the clinic has provided treatment to 2,600 unduplicated clients since 2013, and there are an untold number of heroin addicts getting other treatment or no treatment at all, although the clinic estimates the number that could use methadone is over 3,000 residents.
The drug control policy office has three top priorities: providing education and prevention, instituting substance abuse programs in the jails to reduce recidivism, relapses and overdoses, and addressing the problem of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which is the birth of infants with withdrawal from drugs.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare cared for 129 infants born with symptoms of withdrawal in 2014 and treated more than 250 mothers with a history of opiate use, said Ashel Kruetzkamp, nurse manager for St. E Fort Thomas hospital Emergency Department. The hospital system projects 148 babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome this year, she told the legislators.
Kenton Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders, along with Northern Kentucky attorney Burr Travis, has begun the Heart Program, Heroin Expedited Addiction Recovery Treatment that gets misdemeanor heroin possession inmates into treatment programs in lieu of jail. It’s already seeing results.
“We look forward to working with the commonwealth’s attorney to help facilitate the program,” Merrick said.
Residents of Northern Kentucky, including activists and families of those addicted, attended the hearing at the Grateful Life Center.
The legislators also heard that progress is being made on a new Kentucky Board of Pharmacy regulation allowing pharmacists to provide naloxone, a non-narcotic that can pull people out of heroin and prescription painkiller overdose, restoring their breathing, without a doctor’s prescription.
Several Northern Kentucky pharmacists are already indicating they will provide the medicine without a prescription to those at high risk of heroin overdose. Article Link…