Middlesex Sheriff Peter J Koutoujian this week participated in a panel discussion on medication assisted treatment (MAT) in corrections settings at the 2019 Forum on Criminal Justice held in Arlington, Virginia.
The forum was co-hosted by the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA) and the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), and also included participation from Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) administrators from across the country.
Addressing attendees, Sheriff Koutoujian spoke about the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office nationally recognized Medication Assisted Treatment And Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) program which began in late 2015 utilizing an injectable form of naltrexone, combined with pre- and post-release navigation services and enrollment in MassHealth. Data shows that since MATADOR’s launch, less than 10 percent of those who complete the six-month program have recidivated. Additionally, 95 percent of all participants have not succumbed to a fatal overdose.
Sheriff Koutoujian also discussed the recently launched expanded MAT pilot program now underway at seven sheriffs’ offices – including Middlesex – across Massachusetts. As part of the landmark pilot program, individuals entering custody in these participating counties on verified MAT regimens will have the opportunity to continue those, unless determined otherwise by a qualified addiction specialist. Sentenced individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) who do not enter on a verified MAT regimen may be evaluated by a qualified addiction specialist for participation in the program no less than 30 days prior to their scheduled release. Additionally, the pilot includes post-release navigation services and robust data collection for policy analysis and planning purposes.
“As we mark National Recovery Month, this panel was an important opportunity to speak about the ways we can provide support to those members of our communities caught up in the justice system with substance use disorders,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “Medication assisted treatment initiatives – like our MATADOR program – are among the critical ways we are using health care approaches to produce positive public safety outcomes.”