By Paige Pfleger
The Columbus, Ohio, area has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. And local judges say their courtrooms are jammed with misdemeanor cases that are tied to addiction. Eager for solutions, they’re turning to a treatment clinic in an unlikely location.
On a busy morning at the Franklin County courthouse, Jessica Gurwin joins the crowd of people streaming through metal detectors and elbowing their way into elevators.
“You have to be aggressive, you’ve got to cut in front of people a little bit,” she says with a laugh.
On the sixth floor, Gurwin steps into a courtroom, walks past the rows of chairs and the judges bench, and opens a door revealing a make-shift clinic. A table is lined with boxes of rubber gloves, needles, and the drug Vivitrol, which is taken after detox and blocks opioid receptors in the brain in hopes of preventing relapse.
“It looks like a closet. This was actually the judge’s robing room,” she says. “And the judges were basically like, ‘We don’t need a room to put robes on. Let’s utilize this space to help people.’”
Gurwin works for Positive Recovery Solutions, a company that brings Vivitrol, a brand of the drug naltrexone, to places hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In July, they turned this robing room into a medically assisted treatment clinic that operates for six hours every Wednesday.