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Local jails deal with influx of inmates with addictions

Staff members at the BRRJ are now trained in how to administer Narcan. (WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Local jails are handling the opioid crisis and saving lives in the process.

Staff members at Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority say the opioid crisis has ushered in an increasing amount of inmates with addictions. Some of those inmates are even on the brink of overdosing.

It’s why they’re trained to administer Narcan.

In the year since the jail first got it, the nasal spray and some injections have made the difference between life and death.

"There has been an instance when it has been used here, so it did work and save someone's life," Carolyn Danas, an LPN for the Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority, said.

Danos said the lifesaver was unheard of when she started working in medicine 35 years ago.

Administrator Tim Trent says it's a good thing they have it, given the current trend.

"We are seeing a substantial increase in opioid use in the individuals that are coming in," Trent said.

Trent says there’s a big domino effect with addiction. He says it's to blame for countless robberies, shootings, senseless deaths, and jail overcrowding.

Both say their bigger focus is helping people overcome their addiction and keeping them out of the criminal justice system.

"It's rewarding not only to us, because we won't have to worry about any type of security issue, safety issue," Trent said. "It's also rewarding to the localities that have to pay to have that individual housed in our jails."

All of the jail's medical and security staff are trained to identify the symptoms of opioid abuse.

They also work closely with several drug treatment programs and make referrals on a case-by-case basis.

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