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Recovery Behind Bars: Cook County Jail’s Opioid Treatment Program

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Medill Reports
by Paige Tortorelli

Recovery Behind Bars: Cook County Jail’s Opioid Treatment Program

By Paige Tortorelli
Medill Reports

Every year, 5,000 detainees in Chicago’s Cook County Jail are treated for an opioid addiction. With such a large portion of its population using opioids, effective treatment has been a priority for this jail.

Much debate has arisen in the past few years about medical-assisted treatment in jail. In jails where this treatment is offered, detainees are usually given a medication called suboxone, which is a prescription narcotic that reduces opioid cravings. But the medication is very controversial. Suboxone itself is an opioid, so many people believe it replaces one addiction with another. Advocates say that it helps users stay clean both during and after their time in jail.

 

Fewer than one percent of U.S. jails offer opioid users medical-assisted treatment like suboxone, but Cook County Jail is in that one percent. Find out how treatment in this jail is creating more opportunities for detainees to stay opioid-free once they are released.

Photo at top: Looking into Cook County Jail from the wire fence. (Paige Totorelli/MEDILL)

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