1st Knox County inmate takes shot to hopefully help stop addiction

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The first inmate in Knox County was given a Vivitrol shot Monday. He is the first of 30 Knox County inmates to participate in the yearlong program. The hope is that these shots will help addicted inmates stay off opioids after being released from jail.

According to Chief Lee Tramel with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, inmates volunteer to participate. They must be approved by the district attorney’s office and the Helen Ross McNabb Center.

Chief Tramel says the Vivitrol shot is supposed to target receptors in the brain, block the high feeling and get rid of cravings. Each shot costs around $1,000 and lasts for a month.

Previous story: Knox County jail fights opioids with $1,000 injection

Knox County inmate Gregory Fox says he started taking prescription pills for pain after a rock climbing fall more than 20 years ago.

“I’ve had 37 surgeries. A doctor will give me anything I want, no hesitation. I started out on instant release OxyContin in 1992 and went from there,” said Fox.

Gregory Fox
Gregory Fox

He’s been in and out of jail but never got clean.

“I basically just take pills just to be able to function, work and do construction. I haven’t got high. I’d probably overdose before I even got high,” said Fox.

Fox has volunteered to try the Vivitrol shots in an effort to try to beat the opioid addiction. The pharmaceutical company donated enough shots to treat 30 Knox County inmates for a year. A grant pays for Helen Ross McNabb’s services to coincide with the shots.

“I’m going to counseling, starting a program at Helen Ross Mcnabb. It’s a few times a week,” said Fox.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen hopes the shots help end addiction. Fox will have to get a shot every month for a year, get treatment and stay clean. Allen says if he stays out of trouble during this probation period, he will stay out of jail.

“I am cautiously optimist. We have not been able to find anything yet that has been able to help us with this addiction problem,” said General Allen.

Fox says he’s determined to get clean to be a better dad.

“My son is 24, my other daughter is 13 and my other daughter is six. I’m tired of being tired. I guess I’m tired of the same life,” said Fox.

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