The Corrections System’s Stubborn Refusal to Provide Methadone to People with an Opiate Addiction
Date:  06-23-2015

Why wait to treat a person when early medicinal intervention can save lives?
Criminal Justice reform advocates call for alternatives to incarceration for those addicted to drugs. Sometimes that is an option. Most times it isn’t and people who use drugs are thrown behind bars. Reintegration specialists agree that if a person has a history of substance abuse he or she should be plugged into a treatment program upon release.

Too oftentimes there are waiting lists to get accepted to a drug program that treats patients with Methadone and Suboxone, For a newly released person the wait can lead to reverting back to drug use and, according to studies lead to death from an overdose . So, why not treat people with addictions when they first enter a jail or prison?

Health officials and prisoner rights organizations are pushing for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to be available in prisons and jails for those who are addicted to drugs, and methadone is high on the list for treatment. Read Truthout’s article on the poor decision to ban a drug that would most certainly save lives, increase public safety and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.


Years of research shows that combining counseling with drugs such as methadone, a process known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), often effectively reduces the use of illegal drugs like heroin, prevents overdose-related deaths, prevents the spread of blood-borne diseases like HIV, and reduces rates of drug-related crime among people with opiate dependences. MAT also reduced recidivism rates, but the vast majority of jails and prisons in the United States do not offer MAT to prisoners, and many facilities cut or attempt to wean prisoners off of prescribed methadone and Suboxone drug regimens while they are incarcerated.

Facing painful withdrawals, some prisoners turn to illegal drugs while behind bars. Plus, studies have shown over and over that prisoners cut or weaned off of methadone are less likely to return to methadone treatment clinics upon release, leaving them at risk of relapsing and committing crime or suffering a fatal overdose. Read more.