Leon County Sheriff's Office works to fight inmate opioid addiction

Leon County Sheriff's Office works to fight inmate opioid addiction
Leon County Sheriff's Office works to fight inmate opioid addiction
Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 10:19:53-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The Leon County Sheriff's Office says it's noticing more inmates coming in with addiction to opioids. A new program is giving these inmates a way to fight their addiction when they get out.

It's being called an "epidemic."

Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a public health emergency to address opioid abuse. In the Big Bend, the Leon County Sheriff's Office has teamed up with DISC Village and Corizon Health to do something about it.

"We thought that this would be a good thing for our area before this really becomes a big problem to go ahead and address it at the ground level," said Kimberley Petersen, the chief of corrections at the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office says it gives inmates the tools they need to keep from ending up back in the detention facility. The new program incorporates the drug Vivitrol.

"It's not a miracle cure for addiction, and we don't sell it that way," said Patrick Lane, a counselor and nurse at DISC Village I think it can be very helpful in recovery for people who are motivated to actually be in a recovery program."

"Whether you're incarcerated or you're out in the community, it doesn't matter," said Jordan Cowart, the director of operations at DISC Village. "You still have that addiction, and you still have that craving to use."

Last year, DISC Village treated 50 people with Vivitrol. So far, the organization says it's been successful in helping people recover from addiction.

Lane said, "Even some people who didn't have a problem with alcohol and they were typically here for opiates will even say, 'I have no desire to drink, even though I don't have a problem with that.'"

Vivitrol is a monthly injection, but the program adds counseling and follow up meetings to help keep addicts from relapsing.

"Ultimately, recovery is a commitment -- a long-term commitment -- to changing your lifestyle, and that's ultimately what keeps people clean," said Lane.

The sheriff's office says it already has its first two referrals for the program. DISC Village says the injection treatments usually last between six and twelve months.