There has been great discussion about the need for incarceration vs. addiction treatment, but for many people, the only answer is both. There are many inmates who are serving their time and are not getting the drug rehab they desperately need. Most of the time it is due to lack of funding or lack of understanding, but history has shown that simply locking someone up is not enough rehab to help them kick an addiction disorder.
A panel of experts in Rhode Island recently met to discuss this topic and to come up with solutions. The group wants to expand access to medications like buprenorphine or methadone to treat opioid addiction among prisoners, as well as Naloxone to treat overdose.
“We need a paradigm shift,” said Dr. Gail D’Onofrio at the recent meeting. “We need to treat addiction like any other disease. When they come in we need to start treatment and when they leave we need to start a community hand-off.”
It is hoped that by providing better care and rehab while in prison, and more support after release, that there will be fewer repeat offenders getting caught in this vicious cycle. Read more about Rhode Island’s panel discussion here.