A drug abuse trend is showing up at prisons across Pennsylvania. The synthetic drug Suboxone has illegally made it into the hands of several inmates at Adams County Prison. “We recently had about ten participants in our re-entry or work release facility test positive for the use of Suboxone,” said Brian Clark, Warden of Adams County Prison.
The recent drug outbreak has officials at Adams County Prison stepping up security. “They are drug testing all suspected individuals. The prison is going to be more diligent in the items that they search that come into the facility itself,” said Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner.
According to the drug website for Suboxone, the primary active ingredient in both the Film and Tablet is Buprenorphine. Both formulations also contain Naloxone, to deter misuse. The drug is used to help suppress opiate cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms.
The drug is commonly abused by heroin addicts. “Suboxone not in a pill form can be placed in adhesive like on a letter or something of that nature. When you lick it then you can actually have the effects of the Suboxone,” said Wagner. “Suboxone is a synthetic controlled substance and it’s used for those individuals that have a heroin addiction.”
The reason some inmates have gotten away with using Suboxone is because they are not always being tested for it. “Suboxone is a synthetic drug, so the test for that is separate from most panel tests that we utilize. So if you are not aware that Suboxone is being utilized and you give the wrong test, you will not detect that. We’re not the only prison seeing the influx with Suboxone, and I think it is being used because it is synthetic. Inmates know it is harder to detect. If we are not testing for that specifically then they know they will get away with it,” said Clark. “It’s not the first time it’s happened here. But as technology with drugs and the strips that are coming in clear colors that can be cut down into small pieces it’s a lot harder to detect.”
Besides stricter security inmates caught using Suboxone are being prosecuted. “Depending on their status they will be taken off work release. If they are under supervision of the Department of Probation Services that could be revoked. They could receive additional charges. Some could even receive state sentences if that is what the sentence carries,” said Clark.