Methadone Treatment in the Criminal Justice

AATOD has been working to increase access to Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction (methadone, buprenorphine, Naltrexone) throughout the criminal justice system. We have been working with many policy partners at the federal level and in our field, in addition to the associates at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and other representatives in the criminal justice field.

Our associates at the Legal Action Center published a landmark paper during December 2011, “The Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System”. You can access the document through the Legal Action Center’s website. It is important to reference a particular citation of the Legal Action Center paper. “An estimated 65% of individuals in the United States’ prisons or jails have a substance abuse disorder, and a substantial number of these individuals are addicted to opioids.”

The Bureau of Justice Assistance in the Unites States Department of Justice also published an important training tool “Residential Substance Abuse Treatment: Medication Assisted Treatment for Offender Populations”. This training tool provides guidance to parts of the criminal justice system as a method of encouraging the use of Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction. You can access this document here: (use .pdf link from previous AATOD web page)

SAMHSA also released its report with regard to the Einstein Expert Panel on Medication Assisted Treatment and the Criminal Justice System, which was released during 2013. It is useful to site a reference from these recommendations. “At no point should mandates for a client to consume or terminate medications be levied without the input of the client and treating physician.” Please click here to access this document (use .pdf link from previous AATOD web page)

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals also released its Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards in 2013. It also contained an important reference to a decision by the NADCP Board of Directors. “A unanimous resolution of the NADCP Board of Directors provides that drug courts should engage in a fact sensitive inquiry in each case to determine whether and under what circumstances to permit the use of medically assisted treatments. This inquiry should be guided in large measure by input from physicians with expertise in addiction psychiatry or addiction medicine.” You can access this document here: (use .pdf link from previous AATOD web page)

Our associates at the NDRI (a nationally recognized research based organization in New York) published an influential article “Medication Assisted Treatment in US Drug Courts: Results from a Nationwide Survey of Availability, Barriers, and Attitudes” in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment during 2013. It provided an excellent understanding of current challenges through drug courts in the use of Medication Assisted Treatment and the fact that more drug courts are now working to improve access to care in different parts of the system. The lead author is Harlan Matusow and this is recommended reading for advocates in our field.

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