Addiction Recovery
By BrightView
Published: March 22, 2024
Updated: March 22, 2024

Many effective treatments can help people with substance use disorders (SUD) who have been involved with the justice system. One of the proven-effective options, using medication for addiction treatment (MAT) along with therapy in an outpatient program, is frequently overlooked as a viable option.

BrightView’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Corey Waller and BrightView’s Director of Justice System Outreach, Emily Harsh teamed up recently to provide us with some invaluable insight on how medication for opioid use disorders can save lives and keep people out of the prison system.

“There is a lot of liability in denying SUD patients access to MAT, including the patient’s life.”
— Emily Harsh

Here are four things you should know about addiction and the justice involved:

  • The numbers do not lie: In the first two weeks after being released from prison, former inmates are 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than those who are in the general population who also have an SUD. Even an entire year after release, overdose death rates remained 10-18 times higher among formerly incarcerated individuals as compared to the general population.
  • Medications are standard: There should not be a scientific debate about whether using medications to help stabilize a person in recovery is helpful. It is purely to decrease the “siren of cravings” in one’s brain to help them regain control of their thoughts, behaviors, and actions. The brain takes time to heal, which is why long-term medication and recovery needs to be widely accepted.
  • Punitive action as a threat is harmful: The threat of judicial punishment alone mostly teaches people how to avoid being punished or getting trouble with the law in the future and has little to do with nurturing changed behavior and often does more to set someone back from seeking treatment.
  • Judges: three minutes or more can make a difference in a person’s life: Three minutes or more in front of the Judge is related to significant reductions in recidivism and increasing the length of engagement to seven minutes between Judge and recovery court participants almost triples the reduction rate in recidivism.

“There is a lot of liability in denying an individual with a substance use disorder access to medication for addiction treatment, including the life of the person you are dealing with,” says BrightView’s Justice System Outreach Director, Harsh.

The same thing can be said about leaving an open-heart surgery up to a qualified surgeon, or a root canal to a dentist – in other words, determining a person’s need for medication for addiction treatment should be left up to a qualified medical provider and not a court of law.

For more about this topic, check out the full-length recording below.

A Better Approach to Recovery

If you or someone you know needs treatment for a substance use disorder, complete our online form, or contact us today at 833.510.4357 for information on our treatment programs, and you or a loved one can start to feel better tomorrow.