An evidence-based criminal justice model that implements treatment for opioid use disorder with medications for opioid use disorder for those that are incarcerated in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is currently the only state that screens every person who comes into the correction system for opioid use disorder (OUD) and offers all three forms of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) – buprenorphine, methadone, and extended-release naltrexone – in conjunction with counseling.
This initiative began in July 2016 by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC), a unified prison/jail. A behavioral health provider with statewide capacity to provide MOUD after release was contracted to help run the program in November 2016, and all sites were operational by January 2017. Those that are incarcerated while already maintained on a MOUD regimen will be continued on that regimen.
There are programs in place to ensure a smooth transition when the person is released so that there is no interruption of MOUD and counseling. Preliminary results may suggest that this program reduced overdose deaths by 61%.
In the context of a population with OUD prevalence much higher than the general population and at a significantly greater risk of opioid-related overdose death upon release from incarceration, screening for OUD followed by treatment with MOUD in criminal justice settings is a promising strategy to effectively treat OUD and reduce overdose deaths.