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Opioid Addiction Treatment in Jail

by Nick

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioid misuse greatly impacts the criminal justice system. A person’s odds of incarceration rise sharply when they begin to use opioids, from an average of 16% to as much as 77%. Between 24% and 36% of people with heroin use disorder enter American correctional facilities every year. Once a prisoner leaves jail, they have a 10 to 40 times higher risk of opioid overdose than the general population.

Opioid addiction treatment in jail aims to address these risks to help inmates engage in recovery. Providers like Health Care Resource Centers (HCRC) work with prisons to offer comprehensive opiate use disorder care.

Benefits of Opioid Treatment Programs for People in Jail

Research shows that opioid addiction treatment in jail helps inmates, prisons and communities. Treatments that include both medication and therapy tend to provide more advantages than approaches with just one of those elements. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) lists these benefits of treating opiate addiction in prisons:

  • Treatment engagement: Patients who receive opioid addiction treatment in prison tend to enter community treatment programs sooner after jail than those who don’t. Among inmates who receive opioid addiction treatment, those who received both medication and therapy have the highest chance of seeking treatment after jail.
  • Lower risk of relapse: Opioid addiction treatment involving medication and counseling raises an inmate’s chance of staying away from illicit opioids after prison.
  • Well-being after incarceration: Treatment for opiate addiction reduces a person’s risk of overdosing on opioids after they leave jail. It also reduces the risk of a return to criminal activity after reintegrating into society.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) During Incarceration

Years of evidence support the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in addressing opioid addiction. During MAT, the patient takes medication that relieves their withdrawal symptoms. This reduction in symptoms allows the patient to take part in counseling and other recovery services to build new behaviors. MAT programs usually involve one of the following types of medication:

  • Methadone: Methadone has decades of use as an addiction medicine for people with opioid use disorder. It has no “ceiling” to its effects, making it suitable for severe cases of opiate dependence.
  • Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine received FDA approval in the early 2000s. It has a “ceiling effect” that makes it more difficult to misuse or cause overdose.

Opioid Addiction Therapy and Case Management in Jail

As part of a comprehensive MAT program, inmates also receive counseling and case management. During opioid addiction therapy, the patient learns their triggers for use and builds recovery skills. These counseling sessions happen individually and in groups. The patient’s case manager also coordinates their opioid addiction care with additional support services.

MAT After Incarceration

When a patient leaves prison, they receive a referral to a trusted opioid addiction clinic in the community. They can transfer their records to this treatment center to continue recovery when they reenter society.

Correctional Facility Opioid Addiction Treatment Services in New England

HCRC partners with law enforcement agencies to provide MAT to incarcerated people with opioid addiction. For more information about our services, contact our staff today.

Read more about this program at BayMark Health Services.

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