Here’s how the Virginia Beach Jail is working to better treat inmates going through opioid withdrawal

Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle (Southside Daily file)
Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle (Southside Daily file)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Sheriff’s Office here announced the roll-out of an advanced protocol to proactively treat opioid withdrawals inside its correctional center in collaboration with NaphCare, Inc., a leading correctional health care provider.

The new approach provides a tapered administration of an opioid treatment medication called buprenorphine to assist inmates with severe and sometimes life-threatening symptoms with a safer withdrawal, officials said in a news release.

“The traditional approach to managing opioid detox in jails has been to monitor the patient as they go through withdrawal and administer comfort medications to blunt symptoms,” said Dr. Emily Feely, chief medical officer for NaphCare. “However, patients can become very sick and may even be at risk of dying while going through detox. Our approach dramatically reduces the risks and symptoms associated with withdrawal.”

NaphCare is on a mission to improve the care of people suffering from opioid withdrawal in America’s jails and save lives, partnering with correctional systems, such as the Virginia Beach Jail, officials said.

Estimates from the National Sheriffs’ Association show at least half to two-thirds of the jail population has a drug abuse or dependence problem.

Recent studies have shown a correlation in opioid withdrawal and suicide rates within jails.

During the first six months of 2019, more than 1,200 Virginia Beach Jail inmates required observation and treatment for detoxification from drugs and/or alcohol, officials noted.

“The health and safety our inmate population is one of our top priorities,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle. “Here at the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office, we have seen all too clearly the impact of the opioid epidemic and the hazards of withdrawal. This new treatment protocol will make that process safer and ensure we can get offenders the help they need.”

To learn more about NaphCare, Inc. click here.

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