New partnership at St. Louis County Jail aims to cut down on overdose deaths
DULUTH, MN -- A partnership between St. Louis County and the Steve Rummler HOPE Network will provide the St. Louis County jail with naloxone, or Narcan.
“Some of our short-term offenders are still battling daily with their addiction,” said St. Louis County Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky, “As they go back into society, as they worry about housing, where they’re going to live, all of those pressures are potential triggers for relapsing.”
The Twin Cities-based non-profit will supply the jail with small kits of Narcan, to be given to prisoners upon release.
“We understand that as a correctional facility were part of the overall recovery process. So for us to be progressive like this, it’s exciting,” Lukovsky said.
Any inmate who leaves the facility will be able to request one of the kits.
Those who utilize the county’s Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT program, will automatically be given a kit upon release.
“The Medication Assisted Treatment program is a program that helps those who have an opioid addiction in the recovery,” said Jail Administrator Jessica Pete.
The program prescribes addicts drugs like Suboxone, Methadone, or Vivitrol during their time in corrections facilities to help them deal with withdrawals.
Pete says many who use the program face an increased chance of overdose when they leave.
“Before we let people out they are opioid naïve. They’re at most susceptible to going back to their original dose or whatever they were using and overdosing on it,” she said.
A survey conducted by the jail in May 2021 indicated that 57% of inmates acknowledged using opiates daily, and 37% consider themselves addicted.
Pete said the Narcan kits will also be available for staff to use within the jail if necessary.
Lukovsky believes the kits are an important step not only to help those inmates at the moment but in rehabilitating them as well.
“This is just one step. There needs to be community involvement. There need to be resources afforded to these people, so that they continue as they continue battling their substance use disorder. They know where their help is,” he said.
The jail received its first shipment of naloxone this week, and the continued partnership means they’ll be able to provide it to any inmates who need them in the future.
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