Denying Methadone to Inmates May Increase Relapse Risk upon Release

Posted on in Drug Crimes

methadone treatment, inmates, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyA recent study conducted by researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island reveals that prisoners who are refused methadone treatments while incarcerated are more apt to not seek treatment once released, greatly increasing their chances of relapsing.

Methadone is a synthetic drug which is often used to treat those who are addicted to heroin and other opiates. Methadone blocks the brains receptors which are affected by the opiate, thereby alleviating the intense withdrawal that addicts often suffer when trying to get off the drugs. Methadone can be taken either in liquid or pill form, and is usually taken once a day. In most cases, a single dose of the drug blocks withdrawals for approximately 24 to 36 hours.

Although many addicts have a high rate of success with methadone, most prisons in this country do not administer the drug to inmates with addiction issues. When a methadone-treatment patient is sent to prison, they are also usually cut off from the treatment immediately upon arrival at the jail.

The Rhode Island study included approximately 200 people who were receiving methadone treatments, and were imprisoned for six months or less. Those who were randomly chosen for the study were offered either to continue their methadone treatments while in jail, or to go through a phased withdrawal. Unlike most states, Rhode Island offers this choice to inmates.

All of the prisoners were offered financial assistance, as well as other types of support, upon their release from prison. Almost all of the prisoners who had chosen to continue their methadone treatments while in jail (97 percent) took advantage of that offer and enrolled in methadone maintenance clinics within a month of being released. However, of those prisoners who had initially chosen to phase out of their methadone treatments, just 71 percent chose to go to methadone maintenance clinics upon their release.

In their findings, the research team pointed out that by stopping methadone treatment, the justice system may actually be creating situations where the risk of recidivism increases, especially since many of the crimes they are committing are related to their addictions.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime, contact an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney. Call Attorney Scott F. Anderson at 847-253-3400 to schedule a free initial consultation today.