LIMA — A former inmate with an opioid addiction is more than 12 times more likely than other individuals to fatally overdose within the first two weeks of being released, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This is why staff at local correctional facilities are making continuous efforts to provide the treatment needed for their inmates and residents.
Opioid addicted offenders at the Allen County Jail, Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, and the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation (WORTH) Center are all offered treatment within and outside of the confined walls of the correctional facilities, but treatment and polices are not the same.
Allen County Jail
Offenders with opioid addictions who are booked at the Allen County Jail are given the option to participate in treatment, unlike other correctional facilities.
“It’s a voluntary program and we hope that those who want to join that group will stay in it through the entirety in the jail,” said Andre McConnahea, the Allen County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer.
One of the options available to the inmates is undergoing a detox which is administered by the jail’s doctor, Dr. John Biery. Because the detox has powerful side effects, correctional officers within the jail will make sure to keep inmates under surveillance and to check on them throughout each hour.
“We don’t want them in position where they are being taken advantage of or they are abused or someone steals their things, their food,” said McConnahea. “So when they are in that state and are not able to take care of themselves we make sure to watch them and monitored them more closely.”
Besides the detox, both male and female inmates can receive treatment through weekly programs by Coleman Professional Services and Lima Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program. UMADAOP provides a platform for both male and female inmates to undergo counseling and learn how to deal with drug and alcohol addiction, as well as mental health issues. Inmates can also receive psychiatric care from Dr. Subrata Roy from Coleman Professional Services once a month.
Another option that inmates have that helps transition is to have recovery coaches, a professional sobriety coach who helps inmates overcome their addiction. While incarcerated, inmates can call the coaches and schedule appointments.
“This helps them keep in touch with the community and plan what will happen when they get back out,” said Darrell Craft, a licensed social worker at the Allen County Jail.
Ultimately, McConnahea and Craft hope that the resources and treatment that is provided to the inmates will help them better transition into the outside world and will not have to return.
“If you can impact them early on before they really destroy their lives, they are more likely to go out and become more productive citizens again,”said McConnahea. “The better job that they can do to getting somebody on track when they leave here, the less likely we will see that person again.”
Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution
Once a inmate with an opioid addiction is booked at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, they complete an assessment which would determine how long they will need to undergo cognitive behavioral treatment.
Low-level felons, who are sentenced to a few months in prison and whose test results indicate that they need less treatment, go through a 24-hour, six-week intervention where instructors use evidence-based strategies to help inmates foster more positive thoughts and behavior. From there they are sent to a halfway house where they continue treatment.
Higher-level felons will go through a six-month cognitive behavioral Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) which includes treatment readiness, intensive outpatient treatment and recovery maintenance. The three-part program focuses on the needs of offenders with mental health and substance use treatment needs.
Once an inmate has completed IOP and is close to being being released from the facility, that individual is then placed into a Community Treatment Program. The program, which was launched in July 2015, was created to get inmates linked with services to ensure continuity of care and a warm handoff upon re-entry, according to John Sexten, head of recovery services for Ohio prisons.
Through this program, offenders will receive another assessment to determine their continual treatment needs and from there will be guided through the process of being placed into supportive/recovery housing, finding employment, obtaining transportation, attending relapse prevention and being enrolled into Medicaid.
Auglaize County Jail
Inmates with opioid addictions at the Auglaize County Jail, unlike at the Allen County Jail, can not decide whether or not to participate in treatment programs. That decision is made by the judge.
Once an inmate is booked, that inmate is asked a serious of questions, and the amount of treatment needed is determined by the responses.
After the booking questions, the jail’s counselor will talk to those individuals about the Vivitrol program, where inmates who are released are administered the Vivitrol shot once a month to prevent relapse in opioid. In addition, inmates are encouraged to ask their attorney to request treatment in lieu of conviction from the judge.
If the judge sentences the offender to serve time at the jail, the inmate will go through counseling if needed. However, if they are permitted to receive treatment in lieu of conviction, the doctor at the jail runs tests to ensure the medication is safe for their body.
Once they are medically cleared, the judge will release them to the hospital for the Vivitrol shot, after which they are released to the community, where they have to report to their probation officer for drug tests. Inmates also have to attend counseling.
“At the end of the day we’re hoping that people don’t die and that they can find some way to quit because heroin is a big problem,” according to Auglaize County Jail Administrator Cpt. Lisa Wright.
Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation Center
Inmates who are sent to the WORTH Center, a low-security treatment and correctional facility, are only required to receive treatment for three to five months. The amount of treatment is assessed by the Ohio Risk Assessment System, which determines if an inmate needs an high, moderate or a lower level of treatment.
An inmate who scores on a high level means that they will need five months of treatment, while someone who scores on a lower level will only need a few months of treatment.
As far as treatment goes, residents of the center go through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) classes from the time they finish their breakfast at 8 a.m. until around 4 p.m.
“We think that that is a much better angle than prison,” said WORTH Center Deputy Director Lori Wilson.
Residents take courses that are focused on case management and life skills, chemical dependency intervention, anger management and criminal relapse prevention. Residents can even take courses that will help them earn their General Equivalency Diploma (GED).
“All the groups and classes focus on skill building,” said Wilson. “You’re thinking and slowing down with the thought processes and thinking positive. You’re looking at past outcomes and how you can do it differently this time to have a more positive outcome.”
Aside from classes, counseling is available for residents who request it.
“Some individuals see him more often, depending on their need and if they feel like they need to see the counselor,” said Wilson. “And if they haven’t been referred, they can put in a slip to him and they will be seen.”
Once a resident has gone through their mandated amount of time to go through treatment, they follow a detailed release/discharge plan. The plan, which is given to the resident’s probation officer, will highlight what each resident needs to work on, and then they will be linked with a counseling agency in their home community.
“We get a lot accomplished,” said Brent Burk, the executive director at the WORTH Center. “Everyone’s goal is the same — our staff wants to get them back into the community so that they are better adjusted than before.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.