States Expand Opioid Addiction Treatment in Drug Courts, Corrections

The National Governors Association (NGA) today announced that eight states—Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia and Washington—will participate in a learning lab to develop and implement strategies to expand access to opioid use disorder treatment for justice-involved populations.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 65 percent of the U.S. prison population in 2010 met the medical criteria for drug or alcohol addiction, but fewer than 11 percent received treatment for that addiction. As a result, more prisons are turning to evidence-based medication-assisted treatments to help stabilize individuals within the criminal justice system and ease their transition back into the community. Many states are piloting programs using extended-release injectable naltrexone, a monthly injection that blocks effects of opioids while reducing cravings, and exploring other treatment and rehabilitation practices.

Governors continue to seek ways to address opioid use disorder treatment through effective policies. States in the learning lab will have the opportunity to learn from another state, Massachusetts, which has implemented innovative models of providing opioid use disorder treatment to justice-involved populations via drug courts and the correctional system. States will learn about Residential Substance Abuse Treatment programs and naltrexone (brand name: Vivitrol) injection correctional programs at both the state and county levels, as well as how such programs operate with a network of aftercare providers and recovery support navigators within communities. Additionally, participants will hear from the state’s long-running drug court programs, which connect incarcerated individuals with medication-assisted treatment and counseling.

States in the learning lab will develop and execute six-month strategic action plans for expanding access to opioid use disorder treatment. The plans will include steps for creating policy and program alignment across relevant agencies and reflect how new strategies fit within states’ larger efforts to respond to opioid misuse and overdose. The NGA Center for Best Practices will coordinate meetings, conference calls, webinars and provide technical assistant to the governors’ staff and state officials that highlights best practices around opioid use disorder treatment for this population.

To learn more about the NGA Center for Best Practices Health Division, click here.