Incarcerated Heroin Addicts

Free «Incarcerated Heroin Addicts» Essay Sample

It is estimated that almost 15% of people entering jails in America every year are heroin addicts. This situation indicates the necessity for effective and immediate detoxification or offering opioid agonist treatment for these persons. Studies have, however, revealed that those services are rarely available. Many jails in the United States have given a report that they do not offer any medications for opioid detoxification. As for those that do offer, most of them fail to follow evidence-based practices. This brings about serious issues concerning ethics and public health. The first issue is that of HIV transmission, as the inmates share needles to inject themselves. The other issue is that the loss of tolerance after detoxification may also lead to fatal overdose (Davoli & Wodak, 1999).

People who are heroin dependent at the time of their imprisonment face the probable prospect of withdrawal that is imposed. Heroin addicts have different incarceration experiences, many of them relating with pain and strain of withdrawing from the use of heroin. Some, however, view incarceration and consequent withdrawal as a chance of curbing or discontinuing their heroin use temporarily.

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The heroin withdrawal symptoms include hot and cold sweats, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and many days of vomiting. This may last for at least three days.  The most striking aspect of imprisonment regards the experience of withdrawal in prison, regularly with inadequate medical care. Some inmates come up with tactics such as misattributing withdrawal symptoms and intentionally injuring themselves in order to receive treatment for withdrawal. Some also buy sedatives or other drug forms, other prisoners have to buy over-the counter drugs such as Tylenol or aspirin from the dispensary. Some believe that physical symptoms linked with heroin withdrawal are regarded as a way of positive punishment and that going through enough pain would help them not to use heroin again (Fiscella, Pless, Meldrum & Fiscella, 2004). 

Some heroin addicts in prison do, however, receive treatment for their withdrawal symptoms. These treatments include prescription and provision of muscle relaxants, sedatives, narcotic pain relievers, anti-nausea-drugs.  Opioid replacement therapy is also given to pregnant women and persons with chronic health complications in some correctional facilities (Baillargeon & Bradshaw, 2003). 

Correctional facilities have seen huge increment of in smuggling of drugs such as suboxone. These substances are smuggled through crayon drawings, stamps and greeting cards. This has forced detention centres to ban prisoners from receiving cards in an effort of preventing drugs from being given to the prisoners. The pills are often crushed into a paste and painted on drawings such that inmates just lick or chew the paper. Pills are also sewn into book spines and hems. Others go to the extent of using the photographs of children and the Bible to smuggle in drugs (Tregea & Larmour, 2009).

In conclusion, correction institutions have a great ability to play a significant role concerning public health and drug treatment enhancement. For instance, they could offer help through coordination of treatment entry for inmates being released from prisons. This way, they will reduce the dangers associated with continued use of drugs in jails and the risks of relapse and its effects once the inmates are set free.  

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The untreated withdraw is a representation of the lost chance of engagement or retaining of people who are heroin dependent and thus reducing their risk for overdose deaths, spreading and contacting HIV and for recidivism to using drugs and committing crimes (Baillargeon & Bradshaw, 2003).  Several approaches can be taken to solving the problem of heroin addiction and smuggling of drugs into prisons. Jails can collaborate with providers of behavioural health to give opioid replacement therapy or to take measures of ensuring that inmates go to relevant health facilities after they are set free. More efforts rather than issuing bans need to be taken to reduce the long-term effect of heroin addiction, smuggling of drugs into prisons and recidivism in our society.