Inmate drug treatment program uses Vivitrol to kick addiction

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As a nurse at the Sarasota County Jail, Meghan Ruggiero said she sees the true impact of drug addiction.

"I watch them deteriorate over multiple arrests," said Ruggiero. 

She sees the same faces over and over again. Her job is to help detox, but knows it probably won't be the last time.

"You see them come in and then, a few weeks later, they are back in again and right back to square one where we have to go through the process again. It's very difficult," she said.

Right now, heroin is the biggest problem. Ruggiero said she's is hopeful a new drug addiction treatment program will be the solution. It starts with counseling and a monthly shot of a drug called Vivitrol.

"It will take away the cravings and it will also take away the urge to want to go out and utilize. Once they use again they won't feel that euphoric feeling," said Ruggiero.

To participate, inmates must agree to get the help during drug court.

Deputies said they are hopeful inmates who take part can return to a healthy lifestyle once released. They are also hopeful they won't see them come through the jail door again.

"The largest consequence, and what we are trying to avoid is, the resulting death that occurs of their addiction and the overdose," said Major Jeff Bell.

The treatment costs up to $1,000 for one dose. It will be paid for by a state grant. If it works, the savings could be huge, and priceless.

"I think this is a game-changer, if and when people decide they want to be done with the addiction issue. This is something that will get them off of heroin," said Major Bell.