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Suboxone Smuggled into Prison in New and Innovative Ways


Prison officials throughout the country are finding that Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, is being smuggled in through ingenious means, including crushing the pills into a paste and spreading it over children’s artwork or under stamps. Smugglers are also taking advantage of the formulation of the drug that comes in thin strips, which can be hidden behind stamps and envelope seams.

The New York Times reports that Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), which is used to treat heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, is also being used to provide a high.

At Cumberland County Jail in Portland, ME, officials rip stamps off mail before delivering it to inmates because they found senders were using a paste of crushed Suboxone pills on the back of stamps. The jail also requires that mail to inmates must come in white envelopes so officials can see the orange coloring of the drug strips when they hold the mail up to the light.

The article notes that in Massachusetts, Suboxone makes up 12 percent of all the contraband found in state prisons. New Mexico prison officials find attempts to smuggle the drug to inmates about once every week.

A Vermont Department of Corrections official said corrections officers there have found Suboxone pills sewed into seams of clothing and stuffed into drawstrings of sweatpants, and crushed pills in shoes and magazine spines. A Maine corrections official noted that some people douse letters in perfume to try to fool drug-sniffing dogs.

15 Responses to this article

  1. Gregory / September 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Guys don’t you get it…..they are not smuggling to treat a addiction they are doing it to get high, the strips especially are easy to conceal and create a watered down opiate high.

  2. Avatar of cbus
    cbus / December 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Suboxone 8mg strips are going for 75 bucks a pop in prisons in Ohio. That is insanity more n more prisoners r hustling and robbing just to feel like a human. Def agree there should be some kind of addiction support to help these people not return once released. After all whether most folks like to believe it prisoners are HUMAN BEINGS.

  3. Avatar of jd
    jd / December 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    just because someone has an opiate addiction problem & there in jail doesn’t make u a hard core criminal,I know of someone now that’s in prison & she is a very sweet woman ,she has an addiction issue & she was on suboxone before she even got into prison ,she’s not a threat to society & for her to be denied her medicine isIpiss poor sorry for an system to neglect to give an inmate their med ,the system needs to go back & evaluate the needs of someone who is truly opiate dependent while in jail ,it would help thin out the hard core criminals that are a threat to society & to the others that simply have an addiction issue

  4. Donna Breza / December 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I am not on heroin or suboxene at this time. I have been successfully drug free for almost three years and counting.

  5. Jeffrey Kamlet MD / June 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Why of why are we not just giving it too thewm and then when they are released sending them to a doc to continue care so they don’t go from jail straight back to the cooker… Its just too expensive to pay 100-200 per month per inmate for this rx. prisons only Rx cheap generic shit. lets the familys pay and allow them to get the rx. every prison should have and addiction MD not counsler, on staff

  6. Brinna Nanda / June 3, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    This is at the heart of our collective insanity. This substance which is desperately needed, and would ease suffering, is denied because there is some peculiar idea that it may cause: PLEASURE!

  7. Avatar of njlcswlcadc
    njlcswlcadc / June 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    As an addiction treatment provider for the past 20 years, I’d like to provide accurate information re: Suboxone. It absolutely provides euphoria evidenced by (1) clients I treat that are visibly under the influence of this medication, (2) that there is a market for it “on the street”, and (3) that it is being smuggled into correctional settings.

  8. Elaine Keller / June 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Sounds as if the prison officials need some drug education. From what I read on the official site, a prisoner who was high on opioids would come down very fast if they used this, and it certainly doesn’t sound as if if would create a “high”

  9. Avatar of bluevistas
    bluevistas / June 1, 2011 at 4:35 am

    If a treatment is being smuggled in, then apparently there is a greater need for it. Why wouldn’t prison administrators start to look at the inadequacy of their treatment programs?

  10. Avatar of Susan Weinstock M.D.
    Susan Weinstock M.D. / May 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    As an addiction medicine specialist, I’d like to provide accurate information re: Suboxone.
    It provides little, if any, euphoria. It IS effective, however, at relieving withdrawal
    symptoms and craving. It is for these reasons that it would have value inside of a prison.
    Suboxone BLOCKS the ability to get high on
    prescription pain meds and heroin. It is an excellent treatment medication for individuals addicted to these drugs.

    I strongly agree with the preceding comment.
    This medication should be available to inmates suffering from opiate addiction, as
    part of the medical care to which they are

  11. Avatar of Mark Kinzly
    Mark Kinzly / May 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Its unfortunate that individuals that have this medical condition would have to smuggle suboxone into the institution. It would make a lot more sense that if inmates come in with a history and a current diagnosis of opiate us that we couldnt just get them access to this medication. It would serve the population well in many regards. We could address the immediate need of opiate withdrawal and sickness and also start to maintain the person on suboxone so that when released they are already connected to services. With the high percentage of opiate users being released overdosing we could put a huge dent in the unintentional deaths that occur just by providing a medication that treats this illness. We make people conduct criminal acts just to not be sick.

  12. Avatar of david
    david / June 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Susan…Really? You can’t get high on it? Really? !!!! Ok “specialist”, go spend a week in a methadone clinic and tell me people aren’t getting high of it!!! As far as criminals having rights!? They are CRIMINALS!!! Let them feel and experience every waking moment of the withdrawal from the drug that made them break into your house or rob your daughter in order to buy more junk!!! They DO NOT DESERVE any withdrawal reduction.

  13. david / June 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Oh and it doesn’t completely block the Mu receptor like methadone….a person can get high on opiates within 12 hours of taking it. And yes it does make a person feel high when taken in excess of the prescribed amount!!!

  14. Avatar of Donna Breza
    Donna Breza / July 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I have taken suboxene and then taken heroin as long as 2 days later and I must tell you – I did NOT get high. I did not feel anything from the heroin. I just wasted my money. Suboxene lasts a long time. Believe me!!!

  15. Avatar of Todd A. Yizar
    Todd A. Yizar / December 15, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Just giving the inmates access to the suboxone is not all that needs to be done. The problem here is the abuse of the medication, which says the inmate(s) have not addressed the mentality that opiate addiction brings. I’m speaking as someone who is prescribed suboxone, for the past 4yrs. and a recovering addict.

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