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Some Massachusetts Inmates Could Get Medication To Help With Opioid Addiction

The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts.
File Photo
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The Republican / Masslive.com/photos
The Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton, Massachusetts

Massachusetts lawmakers have passed legislation that would provide treatment with medication to inmates addicted to opioids.

The bill would allow some inmates at five county jails, including three in the western part of the state, to take prescriptions designed to limit the urge to use opiates.

State Senator Cindy Friedman worked to make sure the pilot program was included in a larger opiod bill.

"There is a major crisis going on around people with substance use disorder and incarceration," she said.

A 2017 state study found inmates who had been released from Massachusetts prisons and jails were 120 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose.

The legislation also requires the jails to connect inmates who are on the anti-relapse drugs with a treatment site after they leave.

Sheriff Patrick Cahillane, who oversees the jail in Hampshire County, said the program will help protect public safety.

"People who come out of facilities who have not been set up to get the medicine that they need to survive hopefully will be in a better position and that decreases the possibilities of more criminal activity," he said.

The bill is now on Governor Charlie Baker's desk, and the pilot program still needs to be funded.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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