CAMDEN, N.J. – The New Jersey Department of Human Services has awarded the Camden County Correctional Facility nearly $700,000 for individuals to receive Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder, according to a press release from the county.
Medication Assisted Treatment is a combination of behavioral therapy with medications which relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings for dangerous substances like opioids and other drugs.
The Camden County Department of Corrections (CCDOC) will partner with the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services to expand the use of MAT in the correctional facility. All three forms of MAT have been offered in the facility since February 2018.
“When nationwide, 75 percent of individuals suffering from substance use disorder relapse within three months of being released, it’s no wonder that recidivism and overdose rates are so high,” Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the Camden County Department of Corrections, said. “By beginning treatment prior to release, we can dramatically reduce the likelihood of relapse and accidental overdose for those reentering the community. It also gives us an opportunity to intervene, direct them to support services, and hopefully help end the cycle of substance abuse.”
The approximately $600,000 grant was awarded in September and will soon be utilized to administer MAT medication, provide individual and group counseling, facilitate connections with treatment providers in the community, and to educate staff and the jail population about MAT.
With an additional grant of $100,000, the CCDOC will also implement a comprehensive strategy to monitor the implementation of MAT in the facility, as well as to track program outcomes and impacts as they pertain to continuity of care, rearrests, reincarceration, and overdose rates.
“Most of our jail population is with us for a very short amount of time, but by beginning this process, and connecting them with counseling resources in the community, this treatment can lead to dramatically positive outcomes,” Young said. “This is a life-saving treatment option, and we hope to find that by expanding the program, we’ll see fewer overdoses and lower rates of recidivism.”
The MAT program, which will serve about 1,000 people, starts for individual patients as soon as they enter the facility. Every person committed to the jail receives an on-site medical evaluation including an assessment for substance and alcohol abuse. Individuals who are identified as suffering from a substance use disorder may then agree to receive treatment while they serve their sentence.
After leaving the jail, successful program participants are connected with one of several community-based organizations which offer reentry services and continued medical treatment and counseling.
Patients who continue the program after leaving the jail will receive a personalized care plan to continue treatment and counseling. Certified professionals will determine the appropriate level of non-medicinal treatment to accompany the rest of the treatment plan.
This program expansion is part of a comprehensive strategy to combat opioid use disorder by the Freeholder Board. Other initiatives such as Project SAVE, an early intervention program at the municipal court level; putting naloxone in the hands of all first responders; and working with medical providers to limit opioid prescriptions have played a vital role in curbing the public health crisis. The scourge of heroin and fentanyl is still a significant challenge for the nation, but these programs are playing an active role in getting residents and individuals the help they need to rebound from this disease.