Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Prisons To Expand Opioid Addiction Treatment

Photo by Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services
A.T. Wall (standing), director of RI's Dept. of Corrections, with inmates from the women's correctional facility who are in the medication assisted treatment program.

Rhode Island’s prison system is offering drug treatment to more inmates. Until now, only inmates who entered prison on medication for opioid addiction were allowed to continue that medication. And only for 60 days. Now, the Adult Correctional Institutions will continue medication for six months or longer, thanks to an infusion of cash in this year’s state budget. 

ACI Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Clark says the program should help inmates avoid relapse when they’re released.

“This is very exciting for me to finally have the chance to see people become successful, decrease the risk of mortality as people get out into the community. I have lost so many patients to this epidemic.”

Director of National Drug Control Policy for the White House Michael Botticelli visited the ACI Tuesday to see the program. Clark says he praised it as one of a few of its kind in the nation. 

Clark says the ACI will soon be able to offer medication assisted treatment to more inmates who arrive addicted to opioids.

“That is our goal and we’re working toward it. We are going to need an outside vendor to help us with that, which we are hopefully going to have in the next month or two.”

Clark says the prisons will need help identifying inmates who are addicted and providing services – including medication – to treat their addiction. Opioid-addicted inmates are at a higher risk for overdose upon release than almost any other segment of the population.