Fulton County addressing opioid crisis in jails

The country's ongoing opioid crisis is a serious problem in the nation's jails and prisons.

And Fulton County says it has a new plan to address the issue behind bars.

Friday, county officials announced a plan to prescribe a new medication for inmates going through severe opioid withdrawals.

The announcement comes as the jail's health care provider says that nationally they've seen the number of patients going through withdrawal behind bars triple in recent years.

And the withdrawal process can be deadly.

"We have patients who come in from the community using drugs," Dr. Emily Feely said. "They already have health conditions that are probably compromised. They're not taking care of themselves. They're not eating or drinking."

Feely said this combination of factors can lead to cardiac problems or even death. 

Officials say there's also a strong correlation between opioid withdrawal and suicide risk.

They hope by introducing this new medication that they can reduce the number of suicides in jails.