Opiate dependency treatment to begin inside county’s Detention Center

Sheriff’s Office partnering with Drug Court to identify candidates for help

The Sarasota County Detention Center is in downtown Sarasota. File photo
The Sarasota County Detention Center is in downtown Sarasota. File photo

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the 12th Judicial Circuit’s Drug Court, Armor Correctional Health Services and Centerstone, is preparing to launch an opiate addiction treatment program in the Sarasota County Jail, Sheriff Tom Knight has announced.

Through assistance and funding provided by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, inmates of the Sarasota County Jail who suffer from opiate addiction will receive a monthly injection of Vivitrol, a prescription medication that is non-addictive, a news release says. That property of the drug will “alleviate the potential for it to be used as a replacement drug or to hold any street value in comparison to other treatment drugs,” the release explains. The active ingredient in Vivitrol attaches itself to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the pleasurable feeling that accompanies ingestion of highly addictive drugs, the release adds.

The doses will be coupled “with extensive drug therapy,” the release notes.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is the fourth law enforcement agency in the state of Florida known to have introduced Vivitrol into its correctional facility, the release says.

Candidates, who will be identified through Drug Court, will be required to be opiate-free for at least seven days prior to receiving the first dose of Vivitrol, the release explains. Inside the jail, staff from Centerstone and Armor Correctional Health Care will coordinate the individuals’ use of the medication and facilitate drug therapy, the release adds. Upon release, patients will be directed to continue outpatient care through Centerstone while under the supervision of Drug Court, the release notes.

Centerstone, which has an office in Bradenton, offers “a full range of mental health, addiction and intellectual and developmental disabilities services,” its website says.

“This is just another step we’re taking locally to combat the national issue of opiate addiction,” said Knight in the release. “We are not so naive as to believe that arresting people will solve this problem,” he added in the release. “Instead, through our philosophy of rightful policing, we’ve equipped our deputies with naloxone and now we’re offering drug therapy in our jail.”

Knight continued, “The Sheriff’s Office is a full-service agency, which means not only working to eliminate the influx of heroin into our community, but also providing services and resources to the people who need it most.”