Safe Withdrawal in Jail Settings

 

Safe Withdrawal in Jail Settings
Preventing Deaths, Reducing Risk to Counties and States

As the opioid crisis continues, jails across the country are encountering people with opioid use disorders who are actively using heroin, fentanyl, illicit prescription medications, and other opioids. These individuals often experience withdrawal syndrome upon abrupt substance discontinuation, and they may need withdrawal management services while detained. Withdrawal syndrome can occur with discontinuation of non-opioid substances as well, including alcohol and benzodiazepines. Contrary to commonly held notions, withdrawal is often not only uncomfortable or painful, but may also be harmful to health and even fatal. Jails without adequate services and protocols for withdrawal management may face risk liability. Jurisdictions can save lives and reduce their possible exposure to costly and time-consuming litigation by creating and enacting policies that ensure adequate care for individuals going through withdrawal syndrome while in correctional custody.

This brief is for jail administrators and other public safety leaders, as well as county and state policymakers who work on issues related to public safety, public health, and behavioral health. It contains information about safe withdrawal management in jail and resources to aid in developing these procedures.

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