Policy and Legal Considerations Related to use of MAT for Opioid Use Disorder

In 2011, the Legal Action Center reported that—

…an estimated 65% of individuals in United States prisons or jails have a substance abuse disorder, and a substantial number of these individuals are addicted to opioids. Rates are at least as high in all other phases of the criminal justice system. This enormous amount of substance use among individuals with criminal justice involvement has far reaching consequences, including higher recidivism rates, harm to families and children of criminal justice involved individuals, and negative public health effects, including the transmission of infectious diseases and overdose deaths (Legal Action Center, 2011).

During a public health crisis of opioid use disorder in the United States, decision makers must be careful not to limit the use of these medications. The Legal Action Center also concludes that denying access to MAT can constitute illegal discrimination:

Denial of access to MAT at any level of the criminal justice system violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act where the denial is pursuant to a blanket policy prohibiting MAT or is carried out on a case by case basis without the required objective, individualized evaluation (Legal Action Center, 2011).

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