- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday announced a pilot program to give an anti-addiction drug to newly released inmates hooked on heroin and other opiates.

Inmates released from the Marble Valley Correctional Center in Rutland will be offered naltrexone, a once-a-month injection that blocks the euphoric effects of certain drugs.

Officials say naltrexone is not an opiate nor a replacement or maintenance medication like methadone or buprenorphine. A person must be opioid-free for at least a week before receiving the injection.

“Naltrexone is especially promising for treating people coming out of our correctional system, who may be motivated to stay clean but are struggling,” Shumlin said. “Because of the way naltrexone works to block the ‘high’ from using opioid drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers, this new treatment can help recovering addicts avoid a relapse.”

About 350 people will participate in the pilot program, which will be expanded to other parts of Vermont in coming months, Shumlin said. Participants will also get addiction recovery counseling and care management services.

Naltrexone is also used to treat alcohol dependency.

The pilot program is funded as part of a three-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that was awarded to the Vermont Health Department in August. The grant’s purpose is to enhance and expand access to medication and other support to treat opioid addiction.

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