From a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office news release.
In an effort to better treat inmates with heroin or other opioid addictions, the Snohomish County Jail has launched a pilot program for medication-assisted detox using Suboxone.
The goal of the new medication-assisted detox program is to give inmates a better chance at successfully getting through withdrawal and getting clean, so they have less of a chance of relapsing once they are released.
“Implementing medication-assisted detox means we can start to close the revolving door for inmates who keep landing in jail for committing crimes to feed their addiction,” said Sheriff Ty Trenary.
Prior to medication-assisted detox, an inmate withdrawing from heroin or other opioids was housed in the jail’s medical unit for a minimum of three days and their only option was a “hard” withdrawal.
The medical unit in the jail recently sent two Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) and one physician to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) training.
This training offered by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) allows for each provider to be eligible for a prescription waiver for medical withdrawal management for up to 30 patients at a time.
Suboxone is an FDA approved medication for assisted detox of people with heroin or other opioid addiction. Suboxone administration rapidly decreases opioid withdrawal symptoms and will allow inmates to move into general housing while they go through assisted detox.
The jail’s medical housing unit was designed to hold 24 inmates with moderate to severe medical issues. Since 2013, the unit is regularly at 200 percent capacity (52 inmates on average) with more inmates than beds. Over 90% are on heroin or opioid withdrawal care.
In a recent one-week period (January 14-20, 2018), more than 40% of the inmates booked into the Snohomish County jail were placed on opioid/heroin withdrawal watch (140 out of 333).
“We are hopeful that this new program will help those addicted be able to maintain sobriety after leaving our facility,” said Karin Heusted, ARNP.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to connect with those who have lost hope and be able to offer them a second chance at battling addiction.”