The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office has implemented a new program at the county jail that is expected to help recovering addicts stay sober by removing the effects of powerful opioids.

Through the program, which began in May, willing participants that are inmates at the jail are provided with a shot of Vivitrol; an opioid antagonist that blocks receptors in the brain so the euphoric or high feeling that follows the ingestion of opioids is greatly reduced. The treatment lasts about 30 days, so participants are given a shot around 30 days prior to their release from jail, and then again as they are about to be released in order to help maintain that blocking effect while they work to remain sober.

Sheriff Mike Murphy says research has found that Vivitrol also has a similar effect on alcohol, adding that while addicts often have a drug of choice, they will supplement what they can in its absence. That can include alcohol in addition to alternative drugs, so the treatment's effect on alcohol is an added bonus. Murphy has found there is a reoccurring problem with people getting out of jail and overdosing within days, or at the most, within a week. He feels the longer a person can remain sober, the better decisions they’ll make, and “that runaway train that they’ve been on slowly starts to stop.”

Vivitrol is not always the first option for addicts trying to maintain sobriety as the treatment is very expensive. That’s why Murphy is grateful the Sheriff’s Office was able to partner with Community Mental Health and Key Development Center to make the program feasible. He says Key development Center has worked with the supplier to ensure the shots of Vivitrol are free of charge to the Sheriff’s Office, and Community Mental Health has worked out a deal with the Sheriff’s Office to continue providing the shots to individuals after they’re released.

As of November 5th, there were 18 inmates that participating in the program. Upon their release from jail, there are seven more viable candidates. (DK)