Methadone Helped Her Quit Heroin. at This kind of point She’s Suing U.S. Prisons to Allow the Treatment.

A Massachusetts woman recovering through heroin addiction sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Friday over its policy prohibiting methadone treatment, which she wants to continue when she starts a yearlong sentence next month.

Her suit comes four months after a federal judge ordered a county jail outside Boston to let an incoming inmate stay on methadone instead of requiring him to go through forced withdrawal, as was its policy. that will adds to growing pressure on the criminal justice system to provide methadone or additional evidence-based treatments to the staggering number of inmates with opioid addiction.

The plaintiff, Stephanie DiPierro of Everett, Mass., was sentenced to a year in addition to a day in federal prison after pleading guilty last fall to theft of public funds; she had collected disability benefits in addition to food stamps without reporting income through a job. Ms. DiPierro, at This kind of point 38, became addicted to opioids as a teenager after her mother died of cancer.

Since 2005, she has gone to a clinic for daily doses of methadone, a kind of opioid that will was approved decades ago to control cravings in addition to withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to narcotic painkillers in addition to heroin.

“Methadone gave me my life back,” Ms. DiPierro, who declined to be interviewed, wrote in a sworn statement attached to the lawsuit. Without the treatment in prison, she added, she fears that will upon her Discharge, “I will lose control of my addiction in addition to I will relapse, overdose in addition to die.”

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The federal prison system has estimated that will about 40 percent of its roughly 180,000 inmates have a substance use disorder. although while that will uses methadone to detox brand-new inmates who are dependent on opioids, that will does not allow anti-craving medications as ongoing treatment except for pregnant women, who can take methadone, according to a spokesperson.

With overdose deaths through synthetic fentanyl continuing to rise, in addition to newly released inmates at much higher risk because they lose their opioid tolerance while incarcerated, prisons in addition to jails around the country face increasing pressure to offer anti-craving medications. although only Rhode Island in addition to Vermont are offering state prisoners all three medications approved by the F.D.A. to treat opioid addiction: methadone, buprenorphine in addition to naltrexone.

At the urging of the Trump administration, the prisons bureau recently started out offering naltrexone to inmates who are about to be released to halfway houses. The spokesperson said naltrexone is usually being offered in 23 prisons within the Northeast in addition to will eventually be expanded, although might not say how many inmates had received naltrexone injections so far.

Many in law enforcement favor naltrexone, marketed as Vivitrol, because unlike methadone in addition to buprenorphine, that will is usually not an opioid itself in addition to is usually taken once a month instead of daily. although there is usually less evidence backing its effectiveness, in addition to some studies have found people don’t stay on that will as long.

More than 250 jails in 33 states at This kind of point offer Vivitrol to at least some addicted inmates, typically just before their Discharge, according to Andy Klein, a senior scientist for Advocates for Human Potential, a company that will provides training to prisons in addition to jails with addiction treatment programs.

“that will’s been practically doubling every year,” Mr. Klein said, though he added that will only a few dozen jails offer buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone) or methadone.

Ms. DiPierro’s lawsuit alleges that will in prohibiting medication for a diagnosed condition, the Bureau of Prisons is usually violating the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel in addition to unusual punishment. that will also accuses the prisons bureau of violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which protects people with disabilities through discrimination by federal agencies.

“The Bureau of Prisons is usually denying her a reasonable accommodation as a result of her disability, in addition to also discriminating between different disabilities,” said Jessie Rossman, a staff lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which is usually representing Ms. DiPierro in addition to also represented the plaintiff in last year’s county-level case. “Inmates with chronic conditions like diabetes are allowed to continue to take their medically necessary treatment.”

Ms. Rossman said the case appeared to be the first challenge to the Bureau of Prisons policy on medication-assisted treatment, adding, “What’s at This kind of point coming across loud in addition to clear is usually that will the standard of care to treat opioid use disorder is usually medication-assisted treatment, in addition to that will’s ineffective in addition to unlawful to prevent individuals through accessing their treatment in addition to medication for that will disease.”

The prisons bureau declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Giving Ms. DiPierro naltrexone before her Discharge might do nothing to help her withdrawal symptoms in addition to cravings while in custody, Ms. Rossman said, in addition to staying on methadone was safer for Ms. DiPierro regardless, because that will had worked for her.

additional state chapters of the A.C.L.U. — in Maine in addition to Washington State — have filed cases seeking methadone or buprenorphine treatment in jails.