Jails get grant for medication-assisted treatment

  • Hampshire County Sheriff Patrick Cahillane talks about the modular dorm renovations underway at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction in Northampton on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018.

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2019 12:20:11 AM

AMHERST — Hampshire and Franklin County jails will soon offer inmates medication for opioid addiction treatment through a three-year program with the University of Massachusetts.

The initiative, funded by a $1.5 million dollar grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will help roughly 500 incarcerated people who want treatment, according to a press release from UMass.

Greenfield’s county jail has already been offering some medically assisted opioid treatment, and this program will expand that and start offering similar options in the Northampton jail, the press release said.

Suboxone, a medication that helps with withdrawal symptoms, will be used and the jails are asking the Drug Enforcement Administration for permission to use methadone as well.

Data will be collected and analyzed by Elizabeth Evans, UMass assistant professor of public health and health sciences.

“Evidence supports the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder,” she said in the UMass statement. “This model signifies a willingness of the sheriffs to deliver care to reduce recidivism and to save people’s lives.”

The program will also help people find care after they are released. Those leaving jail are 120 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than the rest of the adult population, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com

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