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Opioid withdrawal symptoms are reduced to keep inmates clean, hopefully for good

BY ALICIA WOLVERTON

Newberg Graphic Intern

A new program is being initiated for Yamhill County jail inmates struggling with opioid addiction.Svenson

Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is a program the jail, which is run by the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office, will pilot with the help of the Willamette Valley Comprehensive Treatment Center to assist inmates in the treatment process.

Due to a grant from the Oregon Health Authority, the sheriff's office can initiate the program in which inmates will be given access to the drug Suboxone to reduce their withdrawal symptoms during treatment. According to a press release, Suboxone is an FDA-approved medication that assists people as they detox from opioid addiction.

All medical consultation, prescription and mental health services for inmates choosing to participate in the MAT program will be handled by the treatment center and overseen by Dr. Lorne Cross, the medical director there.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to treat inmates with opiate addiction and I believe it will be a great benefit to those receiving treatment as well as the whole community," Cross said.

The general structure of the program is designed to help inmates reduce withdrawal symptoms so that they can move into general housing more quickly while undergoing assisted detox.

YCSO Capt. Richard Geist claimed that inmates are for the most part honest when it comes to whether they will experience withdrawals upon being detained. Once they alert staff of their symptoms, they can choose to be tested for the MAT program. The medical staff then runs a drug test and Cross is consulted as to whether administering the program is a viable option for the inmate.

Typically, if the inmate tests positive for active withdrawals and will remain detained for five to seven days, the inmate qualifies for the MAT program.

Once the program is initiated, all drug administration is overseen by medical staff. Cross is onsite at least once a week to consult with staff and inmates and Correct Care Solutions, a provider of behavioral and mental health services, does all medical administration. In addition to medical treatment, inmates in the MAT program receive counseling once a week.

Before the inmates leave the facility and program, after-care appointments are scheduled with Provoking Hope, Yamhill County Health and Human Services and other private providers. Because the rate of relapse once inmates are released is 75 percent in the first 24 hours, the role of services in the community is a vital part of the success of the MAT program, according to the press release.

"Providing a service which starts medication-assisted treatment while individuals are in custody, where their access to opioids is restricted and they can focus on treatment, will greatly increase someone's chance of overcoming addiction and increase their overall quality of life," Sheriff Tim Svenson said, adding that while the program specifically reaches those already arrested for committing a crime, "Implementing MAT means we can start to close the revolving door for individuals who commit crimes to feed their addiction."

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