The Hogan administration said Tuesday it is providing a $500,000 federal grant to programs in county jails to treat inmates with a non-narcotic, nonaddictive medicine that it hopes will help wean them off heroin and related drugs.
The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention said the money will go to jail programs in Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties. It said an unspecified amount of additional money has been set aside to develop a similar Medication Assisted Treatment program in Baltimore.
"By helping men and women who've done their time to get back on their feet, MAT Re-entry programs protect the families of former inmates from the abuse and instability associated with drug dependency and reduce the spiraling costs of drug-related crime and recidivism on our state and local governments," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement released by his office as he was traveling in Asia.
Hogan's administration has identified soaring heroin overdose death rates as a critical public health threat.
Under the program, selected inmates will receive monthly injections of the drug naltrexone to block the euphoric effects of heroin and other opiates while easing cravings for the drugs, the administration said. The drug also can be used to combat alcohol addiction by reducing the desire to drink, though it does not block the effects of alcohol if it is consumed.
Naltrexone will be administered to inmates within three months of their release dates in the hope that they will stay off alcohol or illegal drugs once they are back in their communities. Unlike medications such as methadone or suboxone that must be taken daily, naltrexone only needs to be administered once a month.
The governor's office said the effort is modeled after a program at the Washington County Detention Center that combines drug treatment with behavioral health counseling. The administration said the pharmaceutical company Alkermes Inc., which makes naltrexone under the trade name Vivitrol, will donate the initial doses.