HAUPPAUGE - Suffolk officials announced a new pilot program to combat heroin abuse in the county.
Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone and Sheriff Vincent DeMarco spoke in Hauppauge Wednesday morning about the heroin and opioid epidemic. They introduced the new program, which includes helping jail inmates who are about to re-enter society.
The plan involves giving addicts the drug Vivitrol, which prevents the users from getting high and dramatically decreases cravings for opioids.
GET HELP: Numbers and Links
HEROIN DIARIES: Stories of Addiction, Recovery
READ MORE: Heroin on Long Island
"We are trying to rehabilitate and prevent people from coming back to the facility because it costs taxpayers a tremendous amount of money," says DeMarco.
A total of 13 inmates have been cleared to participate in the program. Along with Vivitrol - which will be provided at no cost by the drugmaker - the inmates will also be offered addiction counseling and support upon their release. Officials hope the inmates will be less likely to commit crimes to fuel their addiction.
According to Suffolk officials, almost half of the Suffolk County Jail inmate population suffers from addiction to drugs and alcohol, with heroin being the most prevalent. Officials say there were 250 heroin-related deaths in 2014, and 493 people were saved by officers administering Narcan.