Earlier this month, our Vice President of Clinical Development Dr. Romas Buivydas and State Director of MA Correctional Services Earl Warren teamed up to present to attendees of the American Correctional Association’s winter conference about the importance of adopting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in America’s prisons.
It’s a hotly debated topic across the country and in Massachusetts, some facilities are beginning to move in the right direction. MAT is a widely accepted treatment for addiction outside the walls of a jail or prison, and has been in use for many years. It has been proven to reduce drug use, lower the risk of overdose, prevent injection behaviors and reduce criminal behavior.
The key word many people overlook is assisted. Medication is administered only alongside counseling and behavioral therapies. Being incarcerated is a stressor and for people struggling with addiction, it can lead to dangerous behaviors. While in prison, MAT allows inmates to participate actively in counseling and focus on improving their quality of life without the complications of withdrawal symptoms. Upon release, inmates who receive MAT – and continue to – have a far greater ability to reacclimate to daily life, as they are as medically and mentally stable as possible. As such, they’re better able to get and keep jobs, repair and maintain relationships and establish a healthy, crime-free lifestyle outside of prison.
One of the most common myths used to argue against MAT is the belief that it is simply substituting one drug for another, and that people who do receive medication are impaired. Methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine simply reduce drug cravings. They do not cause a high, and those who take them do not suffer impaired cognitive functioning.
20.2 million people suffer from a substance use disorder. Only 10-40 percent of those receive treatment – and only a fraction of those have access to the evidence-backed, life-changing medications designed to aid in addiction recovery.
To learn more about MAT, give us a call anytime at (800) 464-9555. To learn more about Spectrum Health Systems’ work in corrections, please visit http://www.spectrumcorrections.org/.
Romas Buivydas, Ph.D., LMHC
Dr. Buivydas has more than 25 years of experience in the behavioral health field. His expertise spans program development and implementation, training, quality assurance, risk management, compliance and data management. Dr. Buivydas has provided consultation to numerous behavioral health organizations and regularly presents at conferences/symposia across the country.
Earl Warren, MBA, LADC
Mr. Warren is an experienced administrator and clinician in the field of addictive disorders. Since 2008, he has overseen all of Spectrum’s correctional treatment programs in Massachusetts. For the past 20 years, he has developed and managed various clinical services, including in-prison substance abuse treatment, offender reentry programs and segregated treatment programs for high-risk offenders. Mr. Warren serves on the American Correctional Association’s Substance Use Disorders Committee and is a frequent presenter on a variety of topics including addictive disorders, co-occurring disorders, offender reentry, relapse prevention and medication-assisted treatment in the criminal justice system.