The Maine Department of Corrections has intercepted more Suboxone sublingual film — thin strips of a prescription drug that are easy to hide and can be dissolved on the tongue — than any other contraband smuggled into Maine jails.
Research by Portland-based CBS affiliate WGME’s investigative reporter Marissa Bodnar found that inmates are regularly trying to sneak in and abuse the drug, which can be prescribed as a treatment for opioid addiction.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce told WGME Suboxone strips have been found in between sheets of cardboard and in the folds of envelopes. Attempts to smuggle in drugs also have prompted the jail to limit contact between inmates and visitors, leaving inmates to see loved ones from behind a sheet of glass.
“We’ve banned cards from coming in,” Joyce said. “We take photocopies of greeting cards.”
Suboxone is a branded prescription drug that includes the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone.
Addiction treatment specialists have said Suboxone can be an effective medication to help those battling addiction to heroin and other opiates and opioids, if used correctly.
Dr. Mark Publicker, a longtime Maine addiction specialist, told WGME that inmates should have regular access to medication and therapy.
“Any of the [federally] approved medications should be used,” he said. “We need to develop systems [to create better access to addiction treatment for inmates] and understand, right now at any given time, the figure is over 80,000 prisoners in state and federal levels have opiate addiction and are not being treated.”
Bodnar found that, in addition to the Suboxone strips, heroin, marijuana, methadone, Oxycodone and tobacco, among other contraband items, have been confiscated by corrections officials in Maine jails.