08 Nov Lawsuit May Set Precedent for Suboxone Use in Prisons
Suboxone is one of the latest and most effective treatments for opioid addiction, with local “Top Doc” Dr. Nikesh Seth at Integrated Pain Consultants prescribing it to those who want to safely wean themselves off of dangerous pain medications. However, suboxone therapy isn’t readily available to everyone, including those who need it most.
The Legal Details
That may change soon as inmate Melissa Godsey has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, arguing that she must be given her prescription suboxone as part of her medical care. Godsey is serving a two-year prison sentence in Washington state and says she’s addicted to opioids but had started taking suboxone therapy before her conviction. According to Godsey and her attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union, failing to give her suboxone therapy violates the constitutional ban on “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Suboxone therapy is often used to help with the dangerous and sometimes life-threatening opioid withdrawal symptoms. Godsey’s lawsuit nips on the heels of similar lawsuits in Kansas and Massachusetts, where prison officials have agreed to provide inmates with their prescribed suboxone therapy. According to one of Godsey’s attorneys, Lisa Nowlin, “People taking doctor-prescribed medications have a right to continue those medications while incarcerated. This is as true for someone with opioid abuse disorder as it is for someone with diabetes.”
Godsey was in recovery for 15 months before she began serving her prison term. In cases of patients who are highly addicted to opioids, such as Godsey, suboxone may be prescribed for years. According to her lawsuit, if she is “denied per prescribed Suboxone while she is incarcerated, she will inevitably suffer and possibly die.” If Godsey survives her term, her lawyers argue she faces a high chance of relapse upon release. Legal experts following the case stress that one reason prisons don’t give inmates opioid treatments is simply the cost. So far, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has not publicly commented on the case, but has noted that the bureau has recently started offering medication help for some patients with opioid addictions.
Schedule Your Consultation
Opioid addiction is an epidemic that can affect anyone. Safely reducing and perhaps eliminating opioid usage can be critical to a safe and healthy life. If you’re struggling with opioid abuse, suboxone may help. Schedule your consultation today online with Integrated Pain Consultants.