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Westmoreland

Fewer Westmoreland County Prison inmates needed detox recently

Renatta Signorini
| Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, 2:42 p.m.

Incoming inmates needing detoxification treatment at the Westmoreland County Prison decreased over the past two months, according to Warden John Walton.

He hopes those numbers continue trending downward after reaching a high in May of 77.8 percent of inmates coming off the streets with a substance abuse problem.

“It all depends on who we pick up that month,” Walton said.

In August, 59 percent of inmates needed detox treatment. That figure stood at 58.4 percent in July. The previous month saw 74 percent of inmates in need of detox.

By comparison, in April 2014, 42 percent of inmates needed help to be weaned off of a substance.

The May figure was the highest ever, Walton said.

“It’s nice to see we’re back to back” with lower numbers, he said.

Of the 154 inmates who needed detox treatment in August:

• 36 were for alcohol.

• 37 were for benzodiazepines.

• 73 were for opiates, including heroin and legitimate prescriptions and illicit use of methadone and Suboxone.

Walton hopes the decrease is a sign of other steps being taken in the community to reduce drug overdose deaths and connect people to treatment. Drug overdose deaths in Westmoreland County have dropped this year. As of Sept. 3, 67 people had died in the county from a drug overdose and 16 cases are being investigated as such.

In 2017, 193 people died from a drug overdose in the county, according to coroner statistics.

A few more people could get into the jail’s new program this week that includes one free dose of Vivitrol, an anti- addiction drug, shortly before their release. The program, started in July, can take 10 male and 10 female inmates, but only two have been eligible so far, Walton said.

“We have a lot of referrals for people who are still eight, nine months out,” he said.

In the meantime, those inmates who ultimately will be eligible can get started with the therapy sessions that are part of the program before getting the shot closer to their release date.

Vivitrol, the brand name of naltrexone, is a non-narcotic injection that blocks cravings that lead to relapses and stop a drug user from getting high.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, rsignorini@tribweb.com or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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