PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Common Pleas Court Judge William T. Marshall says he will make a decision Thursday of next week as to whether to accept his Scioto County Drug Court’s portion of a $5 million grant from the state of Ohio to engage in a program involving the opiate blocker, Vivitrol, a once-a-month injection that is not a narcotic, but has the effect of blocking a “high” caused by the use of opiates.
Orman Hall, director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, explained the grant to the Daily Times.
“It was established by the General Assembly,” Hall said. “There’s $5 million earmarked, and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services budget to basically determine whether medication-assisted treatment can be effective in improving outcomes for those persons struggling with opiate addiction, and involved with the criminal justice system of our state.”
Hall said Scioto County is one of five communities selected to be one of the counties to have first right of refusal of the grant in terms of participating in the program. Previously, the Scioto County Drug Court has operated without any funds, and of the graduates of the Court, only one person has re-offended. However, there have been those who repeatedly failed during the time of their participation, and those are the individuals, Marshall said this program might help.
Marshall was give three choices as a participant. He was told he could use Suboxone, Vivitrol, or both. Marshall turned Suboxone down flat.
“Suboxone is still a narcotic,” Marshall told the Times. “You know the problems we have with narcotics in this county. As soon as they took pills like Oxy’s (Oxycodone) off the street, all of a sudden Suboxone was showing up, and people were abusing Suboxone. And they were saying they were getting a better high off the Suboxone than they got with Oxy’s, so we took the conscious effort to make sure that we don’t participate in that program.”
During the presentation Thursday, Jay Hash, Clinical Director of The Counseling Center, discussed why The Counseling Center chose to utilize Suboxone as a part of their treatment.
“We respect The Counseling Center’s decision to do so,” Marshall said. “We just don’t want to participate with Suboxone in our drug court.”
Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said he has many concerns about bringing Vivitrol or Suboxone into the Drug Court program.
“I will tell you 100 percent I am against introducing Suboxone, replacing one drug with another, in treating opiate addiction,” Kuhn said. “It didn’t work with Methadone. It’s not working now with Suboxone, regardless of some people saying it is. We’re seeing that sold on the street, abused on the street. I prosecuted three cases myself this week, felonies involving Suboxone. So Suboxone is definitely not the answer.”
Kuhn then addressed Vivitrol.
“Vivitrol is a little different because it doesn’t include the opiate, but my other concern still stands - how long is a person on it?” Kuhn said. “Initially I had heard six months, which seemed like a long time. The I heard, six months or more. Then today I heard six to 12 months. And then, 12 to 18 months. How long are we going to pay and require that crutch through criminal justice? Vivitrol, outside of the criminal justice system.”
Marshall said he will meet with his Drug Court team this week and announce a decision next week.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.