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Friday, May 27, 2011

Suboxone: The Hottest Drug In American Prisons

I have a feeling that very few people outside drug addiction recovery programs and prisons have ever heard of Suboxone, let alone the fact that it is sweeping through the U.S. prison system at epidemic rates. Abby Goodnough and Katie Zezima report for the New York Times:

WINDHAM, Me. — Mike Barrett, a corrections officer, ripped open an envelope in the mail room at the Maine Correctional Center here and eyed something suspicious: a Father’s Day card, sent a month early. He carefully felt the card and slit it open, looking for a substance that has made mail call here a different experience of late.

Mr. Barrett and other prison officials nationwide are searching their facilities, mail and visitors for Suboxone, a drug used as a treatment for opiate addiction that has become coveted as contraband.

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Suboxone pills. Photo: Supertheman (CC)

Innovative smugglers have turned crushed Suboxone pills into a paste and spread it under stamps or over children’s artwork, including pages from a princess coloring book found in a New Jersey jail.

The drug also comes in thin strips, which dissolve under the tongue, that smugglers have tucked behind envelope seams and stamps.

“It’s become a crisis in here, to be honest with you,” said Maj. Francine Breton, administrator of the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Me. “It’s the drug of choice right now.”

Law enforcement officials say that Suboxone, which is prescribed to treat addiction to heroin and powerful painkillers like oxycodone, has become a drug of abuse in its own right, resulting in prison smuggling efforts from New Mexico to Maine. Addicts buy it on the street when they cannot find or afford their drug of choice, to stave off the sickness that comes with withdrawal. But some people are also taking it for the high they say it provides…

[continues in the New York Times]


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