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Opiate Withdrawal Is A Problem In Our Jails and Prisons

Heroin and prescription painkiller addiction is a controlling habit to live with. Opiate addiction consumes an addicts life and leads many down a dark path they otherwise wouldn't take.  If an opiate addict does not get their drug into their system daily, they will begin to feel sick. This sickness is known as withdrawals. Opiate withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and is often compared to an intense case of the flu multiplied many times over.  Not only does one feel very ill, they will also experience watery eyes, aches and pains, suicidal depression, anxiety, irritability, anger and violent thoughts. Even worse, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweats will also be present.

Withdrawal is what keeps most addicts from getting clean. It gets to a point where most addicts do not enjoy the feeling anymore and in fact many are unable to even achieve the “high.” It either costs too much money to afford a high or they are physically unable to get high, therefore they use the drug simply to not get sick. They know that as soon as they miss a dose, the onset of withdrawals will be present. In fact, opiate withdrawal is always hiding right around the corner. Every action the addict has must take into account whether they will be able to score their drug beforehand. The drug controls every thought and action they have. It is just as important to an addict as oxygen is. If they do not have their drug, they will simply not function. They will become incapacitated and will become violently ill from the withdrawals.

The fear of withdrawals is what causes many addicts to commit atrocious crimes as well as lying and manipulating people in the process. Good-hearted and smart individuals who would normally not hurt a fly will do whatever it takes to get their drug. It usually starts off by stealing from friends and family. Jewelry, electronics, and other valuable items are normally the first to be taken in order to pawn or sell to feed their habit.  After an addicts has no one left that will let them near their home they will resort to committing other crimes to help support their habit. With opiates, the addict usually has two possible outcomes. Death from an overdose or jail from committing a crime to afford their addiction. The last place in the world an addict wants to go through withdrawals is in jail, but far too often that is where they end up.

This presents a serious problem for jails because most are not equipped to handle addicts going through withdrawal. The first 72-hours of an inmates withdrawal is the most miserable. They will be harder to control because of their mood swings and the fact that they are ill. In most jails, the infirmary will handle the inmates who are going through withdrawal. Most do not have the resources to provide anything more than a bed and for nurses to monitor their fluids and to keep on eye on the prisoner for suicide watch. Suicide is a common thing that happens in jails around the country when an inmate is going through withdrawal if they are not closely monitored.

Jails simply do not have the funding or resources to handle the opiate withdrawal epidemic plaguing the country. This problem is starting to gain more attention around the United States and many state government officials need to figure out a way to add resources for the safety of the officers and nurses that work with withdrawing inmates.


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