$3.94 million grant to boost opioid use disorder care in Colorado state prisons
Jan. 18, 2024 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser announced today that the Colorado Department of Law has awarded a $3.94 million grant to the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) to deliver medications for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment. This two-year agreement will support OUD medication delivery, behavioral health counseling, and care coordination for inmates in state correctional facilities through their release from prison.
“Two-thirds of today’s incarcerated population, on a nationwide basis, struggles with a substance use disorder, and that percentage is even higher in certain parts of Colorado. For those leaving prison without any treatment, they are at least 40 times more likely than a member of the general population to die from an overdose within two weeks of leaving prison,” said Weiser. “This is a significant opportunity for our state to reduce recidivism, aid reintegration into society for those released from prison, and improve public safety.”
Like other substance use disorders, OUD is a chronic brain disease in which people continue to use opioids in spite of the harm caused by their use. The program provides three months of pre-release medication treatment and a three-week supply upon release, promoting health and safety for incarcerated individuals with OUD. In addition, the program will increase care coordination for treatment upon release.
“Providing care coordination for patients with opioid use disorder encourages connectedness and continuity of care from incarceration through release. This grant will aid us in meeting the needs we see within our incarcerated population and will help provide more comprehensive and effective interventions to individuals,” explained Executive Director for CDOC, Andre Stancil.
Data regarding the effectiveness of medication for OUD programs is striking and replicated in several states. For example, after the Rhode Island Department of Corrections implemented a similar program during incarceration, post-incarceration deaths decreased by 61% compared with the previous year, accounting for much of the state’s 12% reduction in overdose deaths that year.
The funding for the grant stems from lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors, resulting in $750 million in anticipated settlement funds to date. Targeting the 10% of opioid settlement funds allocated to the state as outlined in a joint opioid framework agreement between the state and local governments, all funds must be used to abate the opioid crisis. The Opioid Crisis Recovery Funds Committee, established by the Colorado state legislature, consulted on the proposal.
Acknowledging similar challenges faced by jails, the Department of Law will soon announce an opportunity to recognize and support efforts to enhance connections to the community and medications for opioid use disorder in jails across Colorado.
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