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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Prisoners Suffer Without Methadone Programs

More inmates than ever are now forced to withdraw cold turkey, a prisoner tells The Fix.

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Many recovering addicts must sweat it
out behind bars. Photo via

By Seth Ferranti

02/07/13

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In recent years almost every methadone program in prison or jail has been terminated. "When I came to prison I was cool the first day," one heroin/methadone addict and current prisoner tells The Fix. "But then I had seizures and convulsions and they didn't do shit for me, just told me it was part of the detox. They left me in population. I was shitting my pants, had the shakes and was deathly ill and they didn't do anything for me or even give me a change of clothes," he continues. "But that's nothing new. I have seen dudes have epileptic seizures—your heart can stop. Dudes get taken out to the hospital, they have chest pains, get pale and sick. They should implement something in prison to help addicts detox instead of locking them in and letting them sweat it out. In county where I was at they don't give you nothing, only Ibuprofen, thats it, period. I didn't take that shit."

Recovery advocates have argued that cutting addicts off from methadone is akin to taking insulin from a diabetic. But most prisons still don't cater to prisoners who are already on methadone. "It's one of the gnarliest drugs ever," the prisoner says of methadone. "On the street they have detox places where you can go and pay like $30 a week, but in prison there's nothing. I've seen dudes go cold turkey in here and they have heart attacks. But the prison doesn't care. When you quit it you are supposed to gradually wean yourself down. Unless you want to have seizures and convulsions, you have to wean yourself down. But in here they let inmates sweat it out and get the shakes or whatever. No treatment. It's inhumane." 

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