VADOC Expands Efforts to Treat Opioid Use Disorder
By CN Staff
RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is expanding its Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, in order to serve more inmates and probationers struggling with Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD).
The expansion now allows buprenorphine continuations for both male and female individuals entering VADOC with verified prescriptions for the treatment of MOUD. Buprenorphine is a prescription medication approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective and helps dimmish the effects of physical dependency to opioids, increases safety in cases of overdose, and lowers the potential for misuse.
Oral and injectable buprenorphine will be offered, coupled with ongoing counseling, case management, peer support, and substance use disorder programming.
“The data illustrates that the number of Americans dying from opioid use is increasing dramatically,” said VADOC Director Harold W. Clarke. “As an agency committed to providing second chances for those entrusted to our care, it is imperative that we continue to grow programs that have proven to work. MAT is one such program. We are committed to assisting those entrusted to our care in having a substance use-free life following their incarceration or treatment in the community.”
“VADOC will take an important step toward fostering hope, reducing the risk of relapse, increasing treatment retention, and normalizing brain chemistry for justice-impacted individuals with opioid use disorder,” Ashlyn Hartsook, Statewide MAT Coordinator, said of the expansion. The program will be offered at Nottoway Correctional Center, Keen Mountain Correctional Center, Green Rock Correctional Center, Indian Creek Correctional Center, Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and Virginia Correctional Center for Women.
Long-acting, injectable naltrexone (used to block the effects of opioids) continues to remain an option for individuals being released from one of thirteen VADOC facilities, as part of the Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative (MATRI). Additionally, information on how to identify and treat an overdose with naloxone is provided to all individuals at release as part of the reentry packet. VADOC offers two-dose naloxone (an opioid overdose reversal medicine) take-home kits, free of charge to individuals released from the thirteen MATRI pilot locations.
In July 2018, the VADOC launched the MAT pilot program to provide pre-release treatment and post-release referral, treatment, and support for offenders with MOUD. In March 2021, the VADOC expanded the MAT program to include the continuation of buprenorphine from jail or community providers for individuals sentenced to the Community Corrections Alternative Program (CCAP).