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MAT's Important Role In The Criminal Justice System
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) plays a crucial role in addressing opioid addiction within the criminal justice system.
MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications, such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. Together, they are the gold standard of treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD).
Medication can play a significant role in helping people involved in the justice system stay sober. It can help at any stage for people with OUD; the pre-incarceration, incarceration, and reentry phase.
Pre-Incarceration and Diversion MAT
Many people involved in the criminal justice system live with opioid use disorder. MAT can be implemented even before entering the criminal justice system. For many people, this means a diversion program where instead of jail time, they complete treatment.
Alongside medication, people need to get therapy for substance use disorders. Peer support groups, guided cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other addiction-focused therapies are used to help people learn about their disease and recovery.
MAT can become an integral part of pretrial programs, offering physical relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and laying the foundation for recovery.
MAT For People In The Criminal Justice System
Inside correctional facilities, MAT has proven effective in managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing the risk of overdose among incarcerated individuals with OUD. Like life outside the walls, fentanyl overdoses have sadly been a part of life inside jails and prisons nationwide.
Providing MAT during incarceration not only improves the physical and mental well-being of inmates but also increases the likelihood of successful reentry upon release. It addresses the vicious cycle of addiction-driven crime and helps break the link between opioid use and criminal behavior.
Post-Incarceration MAT and Reentry
MAT's role extends beyond prison walls. Individuals who were initiated on medication during incarceration can continue their treatment upon release.
This continuity of care is critical; the risk of overdose is significantly elevated in the immediate period following release due to lowered opioid tolerance. Many people who leave jails without a plan for continued recovery end up using and overdosing after they misjudge their own tolerance or are exposed to an adulterant like fentanyl.
MAT helps stabilize individuals, mitigate cravings, and improve their chances of recovery, reducing their chance of recidivism in the future.
Community Treatment and Recovery
MAT is an evidence-based approach that provides ongoing support for individuals in the community, allowing them to sustain their recovery journey. It offers support to people who want to stay sober from opioids and helps reduce cravings. Opioids are highly addictive drugs and cravings can last months.
By managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, MAT enables individuals to focus on improving their quality of life.
Regular engagement in counseling and therapy, often paired with MAT, offers can help people work through and learn to cope with the psychological aspects of addiction.
MAT also helps reduce the stigma associated with opioid addiction.It has taken a long time for medical professionals to recognize that opioid use disorder is a disease of the brain. Today, doctors and other professionals realize that it can be treated successfully, which helps break through the stigma of addiction.
Recognizing addiction as a medical condition that can be managed with medication can help challenge the misconception that recovery should solely rely on willpower.
It also helps highlight the role of mental health in our criminal justice system; so many justice-involved individuals are able to quit committing petty crimes by getting sober.
Shifting society's view of substance use disorders helps promote a more compassionate and supportive approach within the criminal justice system and the community.
By effectively managing withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, and addressing the physiological aspects of addiction, MAT plays a pivotal role in breaking the cycle of opioid addiction-related criminal behavior, creating a brighter future in recovery. People involved in the criminal justice system can use MAT to achieve lasting sobriety.
Getting Help for Opioid Use Disorder
If you or somebody you love in North Carolina needs help for opioid use disorder, we're here to help! Get in touch to learn about how our programs can help you get and stay sober from opioids.
If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.