(Editor’s note: it’s not the first, Rikers in NY had them beat by 30 years and there are many others in other states, so we hope WBUR will change their headline…but still, congratulations to Massachusetts.)
Methadone and Suboxone (the brand name for buprenorphine) ease opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Forty-four of the estimated 200 people incarcerated at the Franklin County facility receive addiction medications on this day.
That includes 30-year-old Rafael Ramirez. Until he was incarcerated, he had never taken addiction medication before.
“I’ve been to jail about four other times and I would go cold turkey,” he says. “I would be in a cell throwing up, not sleeping, not eating for four or five days. When I came in I was sick for two days, but I started Suboxone and I’m fine. It’s like I didn’t even take heroin.”
Each person coming in to the jail is screened for drug use and withdrawal symptoms. They’re asked if they’ve been prescribed medication and if they want it. About half say they’re addicted to heroin.