Medication-assisted treatment is one of the most effective and safest ways to help a drug addict detox from harmful substances. Despite that fact, most prisons fail to offer it. Pennsylvania used to be one of them, but as of June 1, it has joined the innovative systems that allow this approach for inmates.

According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, new inmates or parole violators who are part of a medication-assisted treatment program at the time of arrest may continue to undergo treatment in prison. Prior to the Department of Corrections allowing this, the system would wane inmates from the medications that are designed to ease cravings and treat addiction. As a result, these inmates would have to suffer through intense and often dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Medications the prisons currently allow include oral naltrexone and Suboxone.

Ongoing treatment

In addition to allowing the continued use of naltrexone and Suboxone while incarcerated, the state is also taking measures to equip inmates with the tools they need to avoid falling victim to drugs post-release. At the time of this blog, 25 of the state’s prisons have offered drug addicts monthly shots of naltrexone post-release. A single shot of this drug, otherwise known as Vivitrol, can eliminate opioid cravings for as long as a month.

The reason Pennsylvania decided to allow medication-assisted treatment to inmates is simple: medical care is a constitutional right, regardless of whether it is for short-term illness, a long-term disease or drug addiction. The state views the new programs as an improvement from both a health and constitutional perspective.

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.