The opioid crisis has gripped communities across the United States; affecting people from all walks of life who have a variety of lived experiences. People who are incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system, in particular, are at risk of overdose. Recognizing this, researchers at Brown University — lead by Dr. Rosemarie Martin, an assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University School of Public Health, have proposed an innovative new program that would intervene and stem the rate of overdose amongst this population. The project is a cooperative effort between Brown University, CODAC Behavioural Health, Rhode Island State Police’s HOPE Initiative and the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, and has received a 1.5 million dollar grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The program would provide a variety of services including mental health and opioid use disorder screening, medicated assisted therapy (MAT) as well as counselling and support for recovery. Support would be provided by peer recovery specialists who will offer guidance and information to supplement and encourage the use of MAT services. Transportation to and from MAT services will also be provided.
This program will be targeted towards those who are involved in the criminal justice system and are eligible for medicated assisted therapy for opioid use disorder. In particular, the program targets people at three points: those who are incarcerated and awaiting trial, those who are eligible for MAT but were released at the 6th district court prior to receiving treatment and those who are involved with the Rhode Island Adult Drug Court diversion program.
All of this would be done via an outreach team made up of law enforcement officials, clinicians and peer navigators. The aim of the program is to increase access to MAT amongst people involved with the criminal justice system; not only preventing overdose but stemming the cycle of crime and re-entry into the criminal justice system, resulting in healthier and more vibrant communities.