ANCHORAGE, (KTUU) A medical treatment for Opioid addiction is finding strong support from the Alaska Department of Corrections. Commissioner Dean Williams says he’s encouraged by local research that shows Vivitrol effectively keeps inmates clean and out of prison down the road.
“This increase in crime, some of the things we’re seeing I’m sure revolving a great deal around the heroin addiction issue we have in the state,” said DOC Commissioner Williams.
University of Alaska Anchorage alumni Jyll Green has practiced primary care at myHealth Clinic on E. 88th Avenue for the past 10 years. She was motivated by the death of two of her patients to get involved.
“As soon as you give the medication it goes through and it saturates all the opioid receptor sites on your cells so that your body thinks it has opiate on board,” said Green.
Green partnered with the Partners for Progress Reentry Center to give Vivirtrol injections to volunteers who had successfully detoxed.
“Out of the people who accepted Vivitrol only 38% recidivated back six months later which is far better than the 78% average that we’re seeing currently,” Green said.
Now the Alaska DOC is working on plans to administer Vivitrol behind prison walls before inmates are released.
“I’m sold that it’s the strategy we should peruse and how we roll this out and the time frame is still in play but I have finally come to the strong conclusion that we’ve got nothing to lose on this issue, we have a lot to gain,” said Commissioner Williams.
Green says the out of pocket cost for Vivitrol is typically between $1,100 and $1,200 for an injection that lasts four weeks. She says inmates and others addicted to opioids usually qualify for Medicaid which covers the cost.