One West Virginia county is changing the way people are cared for after they are released from prison.
Jefferson County is just one of five counties across the State of West Virginia that is now using Vivitrol as part of their Correctional Recovery Program.
Vivitrol is a prescription injectable medicine used to treat opioid dependency.
Originally, the anti-opioid drug was used for treating those with alcoholism, but as more West Virginians began using heroin, the drug’s use evolved.
“The disease of addiction by no means discriminates. It touches all races, all ethnicities [and] all levels of income in society,” said Del. Riley Moore.
Upon release from the Eastern Regional Jail, some non-violent offenders who become clients at the Jefferson Day Report Center are given one shot of Vivitrol.
Officials said the dose injected lasts about 28 days.
“The one person that we provide treatment to is one less person that our law enforcement agencies or EMS, firefighters [and] first responders are going to have to deal with,” said Case Manager, Jefferson Day Report Center, Caleb Pancione.
Only those convicted of a misdemeanor are eligible for the program.
“We want to service the high risk offenders. [High risk offenders] is where we can impact the community the most,” said Pancione.
Officials said that the program is so important, because after being released from prison, people are more likely to relapse within the first few weeks.
“This is something that we as a society [and] we as a community really need to come together, support and give as many resources as we can to the individual who is being affected by this; it affects everyone,” said Del. Moore.
“It’s all about moving forward,” said Pancione.
Officials said that they hope this pilot program will soon spread to other counties across West Virginia.
Case managers at the day report center said that Vivitrol combined with counseling sessions has decreased the number of clients relapsing and in turn getting re-incarcerated.