Need Suboxone at the Allegheny County Jail? Get up at 3 a.m.

PublicSource, 05/28/24: “Every night, Benjamin Sabo is jolted awake in his cell at the Allegheny County Jail.

A guard’s voice blares through the speaker mounted on the cell wall, rousing him from bed: “Sabo, your medication!”

He fights his grogginess and leaves his cell, joining a group of incarcerated people who, like him, have opioid use disorder. They sit in chairs while a nurse crushes tablets that treat the disease. They contain buprenorphine and are known by the brand name Suboxone.

She places the crushed tablet under his tongue and tells him to stay seated until it’s fully absorbed through the mucous membranes, which takes about 10 minutes. He opens his mouth so a corrections officer can shine a flashlight into it, illuminating every crevice to make sure all traces of the tablet have dissolved — a security protocol to make sure he took the medication as directed.

He returns to his cell and tries to fall back asleep. It’s a futile effort: He’s suffered from insomnia since he was a child and lies awake past sunrise, feeling the effects of buprenorphine — a synthetic opioid — wash over him.

This late-night distribution of Suboxone is part of the jail’s expansion of its medication-assisted treatment program in December — when it began offering medications for opioid use disorder [MOUD] to those who didn’t have a valid prescription when they were booked. The expansion followed the county’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ], announced Nov. 30, to provide such medications to all for whom it would be “medically appropriate,” instead of just continuing treatment for those fortunate enough to have a prescription before they’re arrested.”

Read the full article here.