Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said in his first 30 years in law enforcement he encountered heroin only twice, but now illicit drugs -- including meth and cocaine -- are something his department deals with all the time.
For those individuals struggling with addiction who end up in the Albany County Detention Center, the immediate shift to sobriety can bring on intense physical and emotional stress, according to O’Malley. That’s why he wants to start offering inmates acupuncture to relieve the side effects of withdrawal.
“If we can do anything in our detention center to help these folks through their stay there,” O’Malley said. “And if it’s something that might stay with them beyond that, then we are going to give that a try.”
The idea was brought to him by Sara Bursac, executive director of the Laramie-based National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. While O’Malley is not aware of any similar programs in Wyoming, he said there are programs in other states he can look to for guidance.
“We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. We’ll look through several different jurisdictions’ protocols about how they go about instituting that kind of a program, and we’ll move forward on a trial basis.” O’Malley added, “In today's day and age the drug involvement in all of our cases in astronomical.”
The detention center has a team of nurses for more general medical needs, but O’Malley said there is not currently a program to specifically address withdrawal or substance abuse recovery. He said he’s starting with acupuncture because the Denver County Sheriff’s Department had success with a similar program, and, O’Malley said, because it’s affordable. He expects the program to be off the ground in the next couple of months.