The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Don’t blame prisoners’ books. Treat their addictions.

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The May 28 Metro article “Md. limits prisoners’ access to books” illustrated how misdiagnosing a problem results in applying the wrong treatment: Books did not cause these inmates’ opioid addictions, and limiting access to books for the state’s prisoners is not the solution. Incarcerated opioid-addicted inmates should be given state-of-the-art treatment, such as naloxone, methadone or naltrexone, not forced abstinence-only withdrawal. Such abuse would not be tolerated if these were diabetic or hypertensive patients suddenly deprived of their lifesaving medications. The prison denial policy created the black market for opioid treatment.

Free medication-assisted treatment initiated or continued in prison would make smuggled medication worthless. Furthermore, the inmate who would pay $50 for one 8-milligram buprenorphine-naloxone strip would likely be the same inmate discharged back into the community on no medication and most likely to die within two weeks of an overdose or, if not, most likely to return to prison within one year for another drug-related charge, never having received proper medical care.

Edwin C. Chapman, Mitchellville