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The Lake County Jail and Health Department are announcing the launch of a Vivitrol Pre-Release Pilot Program for qualifying inmates in the Lake County Jail. The initiative is part of the Health Department’s newly expanded Medication-Assisted Treatment program, which recently received a grant of $325,000 from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Undersheriff Raymond J. Rose stated, “We began researching Vivitrol as a treatment option for opioid or alcohol addicted inmates last summer using Winnebago County as one of several models. We were impressed with their program’s success in combining Vivitrol with intensive addiction treatment, referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Recent changes in Illinois law offer coverage for Vivitrol treatment and a partnership with the Lake County Health Department to deliver MAT treatment makes sure inmates who want to break the cycle of addiction are provided the resources to do so.”
By the end of August, inmates who are opioid or alcohol addicted will have another treatment option available to them. Those who voluntarily express an interest in the Vivitrol program will undergo an assessment and education process to determine if they are appropriate for the program. Those eligible will begin receiving addiction treatment services through the Health Department in the jail and after they are released. Armor, the medical provider for the jail, will administer an injection of Vivitrol prior to the participating inmate’s release. The Health Department has committed to treating 15 inmates over the next six months.
“Former inmates are at high risk for death from drug overdose, especially in the immediate post-release period,” said Mark Pfister, the Health Department’s Interim Executive Director. “Research has identified that there is higher risk for overdose immediately following release which can be attributed to a change in drug tolerance while incarcerated. Once released, these individuals may not realize that their tolerance has diminished and can accidentally overdose.” Vivitrol (naltrexone) is a non-addictive drug that helps to reduce cravings for alcohol and opioids. It was approved by the FDA in 2006 for the treatment of alcoholism and for the treatment of opioid addiction in 2010. It works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, reducing the pleasurable effects of alcohol and opioid drugs.
“Collaborations with community partners are helping us address the growing problem of opioid addiction in Lake County,” said Pfister. “This partnership with the Jail enables us to begin to treat people while they are still in jail and continue to treat them once they are back in the community. We believe this approach will help them stay on course with their recovery and reduce their likeliness of going back to jail.” The population of residents in need of substance abuse services has substantially increased in Lake County. In 1998, the county had 30 deaths that were attributed to substance abuse. By 2010, that number had more than tripled to 92. Opioid-related deaths in 2008 were 47 and increased in 2015 to 58.
For decades, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center has been the primary provider of substance abuse services for residents in the county. Its services include screening brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT), in-patient detox and rehabilitation services, outpatient substance abuse counseling, medication-assisted treatment and women’s residential services. It established an Outpatient Substance Abuse program in the 1970s to address a growing population of residents with substance abuse concerns. The program, located at 3004 Grand Avenue in Waukegan, provides both drug-free treatment as well as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using methadone and Suboxone to treat opioid addiction.