In the first two weeks after a drug user is released from jail, the risk of a fatal overdose is much higher than at any other time in his addiction. After months or years in confinement, supposedly without access to illicit drugs, an addict's tolerance for drugs is low but his craving to get high can be as strong as ever, reports Stateline. Most inmates start using drugs again immediately upon release. If they don't die of an overdose, they often end up getting arrested for drug-related crimes. Without help, very few are able to put their lives back together while battling obsessive drug cravings.
About two-thirds of the nation's 2.3 million inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol, compared to 9 percent of the general population, says the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Yet only 11 percent of addicted inmates receive any treatment. One Massachusetts prison has been offering the medication Vivitrol to departing inmates for nearly four years. The recidivism rate among Vivitrol recipients has been 9 percent, much lower than average. Since 2014, nine Massachusetts prisons and 10 jails have added Vivitrol to their drug treatment arsenals. About 50 state prisons in Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia now dispense the medication. And at least 30 jails in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming also are offering it to departing inmates, according to the drug's manufacturer, Alkermes.