Athens County combating heroin with state’s first prosecutor Vivitrol program

ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) —  Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn is sharing his success with a first-in-the-state program to combat heroin and opiate addiction with other prosecuting attorneys Thursday.

He spoke at the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association annual spring training.

Blackburn is the first prosecutor in Ohio and one of the first in the country to implement a prosecutor-based Vivitrol program to fight heroin addiction. Vivitrol can help prevent relapses.

Since the program was instituted the county has had a 33 percent reduction in probation violations; a $15,000 savings on the county’s jail bill, and 15 percent faster case resolution.

“The court can only deal with who’s in the defendant’s chair,” he said. “By being prosecutor-based, you’re able to help everybody. We go in a home, we deal with witnesses. Those witnesses are also opiate addicts.”

Blackburn says Vivitrol is not addictive unlike other commonly used medicated treatments.

“Vivotrol blocks the receptors in the brain so that an individual doesn’t crave heroin anymore and doesn’t can’t get high from heroin anymore,” he said.

According to the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, the program has been more successful than court-based programs because it provides assistance for everyone in the home, not just the individual in the criminal justice system.

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