Burlington County announces program for opioid addiction treatment for inmates in county jail

With a $200,000 grant from the state Department of Corrections, the county will fund a medication assisted treatment program for inmates.

Burlington County Freeholder Linda Hughes has announced that the Burlington County Freeholder Board has taken another step in helping residents overcome addiction as the county continues to actively address the substance abuse issue that facing communities all across the nation.

During its meeting this week, the board accepted a $200,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Corrections, which will allow the county to fund a medication assisted treatment program for inmates in the Burlington County Jail who are suffering from substance abuse disorder.

“Approximately one-third of opioid users are funneled through correctional facilities each year. Inmates may be able to practice abstinence while incarcerated, but they struggle to sustain it upon release,” Hughes said. “It is our hope that through this program we will get inmates battling opioid addiction much needed treatment and reduce relapse and recidivism.”

County Warden Mildred Scholtz also noted that without medication assisted treatment, inmates suffering withdrawal symptoms have no relief.

“During a period of abstinence inmates lose their tolerance to a substance, which increases their likelihood of an overdose if they return to using drugs after their release,” Scholtz said.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, medication assisted treatment can reduce the cravings and other symptoms associated with withdrawal by occupying receptors in the brain associated with using that drug, block the rewarding sensation that comes with using a substance, or induce negative feelings when a substance is taken. Studies have shown that through medication assisted treatment users have less danger of relapse.

“This new program will be a tremendous asset, and I know I speak for the entire Freeholder Board in saying that we are grateful to have this opportunity to bring this program to Burlington County to ensure that inmates who struggle with substance abuse can now receive the treatment that they need,” Hughes said.

The medication assisted treatment program joins other board initiatives such as the County’s Addiction Task Force, led by Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Hughes, the reopening of Post House, Narcan training events, support group meetings, and prescription drug drop boxes that allow residents to dispose of unused medications.