New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would require inmates be offered an injection of a drug used to treat opioid addiction before they’re released from prison.
Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway says a single dose of Vivitrol can block the effects of heroin for a month and could help prevent deadly overdoses.
He says people who are incarcerated often have drug addictions that haven’t been treated before they’re released.
“I had a patient not too long ago that left the prison and was dead within four days because he was abstinent from heroin. His brain had changed so that the usual dose of heroin that he used to take now would cause respiratory depression and kill him.”
Roseanne Scotti with the Drug Policy Alliance say a Vivitrol injection is not a long-term solution to get released prisoners into treatment.
“When that shot wears off after a month, there are definitely some concerns. They go back to using just like they could have gone back to using the first day out of prison and they overdose and die.”
Scotti is also concerned about the expense of Vivitrol that costs a thousand dollars a shot.
She’s urging the bill be amended to include less-expensive medications.