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Inmates receiving more treatment options to help curb addiction in Charlotte County

Addiction treatment for inmates
Posted at 6:55 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 18:55:37-05

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) expanded its Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) services which give inmates access to medication used to curb addiction to opiates.

Partnering with Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, the sheriff’s office has been providing limited resources for inmates since 2018.

During that time, inmates who were seeking help would be provided Vivitrol, a daily pill used to suppress the urge for opioids.

Now, a monthly injection, similar to the pill is being offered to inmates after being screened by a medical professional.

Sarah Wright, Chief Operating Officer for Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, says part of the expansion is learning that more resources could mean a better chance at recovery for inmates.

"When we do that initial assessment with one of our nurse practitioners or doctors, they are really evaluating for any of the medications we could use in the Medication Assisted Treatment to determine which one is the most appropriate and then, going that route verse just having that one medication option which may not be the best for everyone,” said Wright.

Wright told Fox 4, assessments are done online, through Telehealth, platforms similar to Facetime or Zoom.

She says this way, it not only cuts down on travel time for medical staff, but it also allows them to assess more prisoners in a single day.

“It also saves time too, verses sending a doctor over there, there is travel time back and forth, so you can see more people that way,” she said.

Helping more inmates address their addiction, could also mean fewer people seeking intervention in the outside world.

“Folks that come to us, have at least been in a jail situation,” said Ray Steadman.

Steadman is the Vice President of Programs for St. Matthews House, an organization that provides recovery programs for addicts in Southwest Florida.

“Until they get the treatment that really helps them with the underlying cravings for those substances, they tend to still continue those patterns of behavior in criminality,” said Steadman.

Steadman says the latest expansion from the sheriff’s office shows that it can take a community to help end the struggles caused by addiction.

“It really speaks volumes to the fact that we are really trying to help the person and not just address the crime,” said Steadman.