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Over 35 States Represented in Rhode Island on Treating Opioid Use Disorder in Corrections Settings

Linda Hurley, MA CAGS, CODAC; Lauranne Howard, MA, LCDP, Coordinator of Substance Use Disorder Issues at RIDOC; Leslie Bridgman, MA, JD, LCDP, CODAC; Jennifer Clarke, MD, MPH, FACP, RIDOC; Barry Weiner, LCSW, RIDOC and Rosemarie Martin, PhD, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University

What started as a technical assistance request from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) became a national conference for department of corrections staff and others in the justice system to learn promising models in implementing Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD).

The free, 2.5-day meeting was held from January 28-30, 2020 in Providence, RI. It highlighted RIDOC's model (one of the first states to incorporate MOUD state-wide, offering all three FDA approved medications), as well as other evidence-based delivery models from around the country.

Over 230 people, representing 34 states, attended the conference, which featured plenary sessions with leading behavioral health, clinical, justice and corrections experts followed by skills development workshops.

Topics for the workshops included: 1) the use of medications; 2) models of delivery in correctional settings; 3) creating buy-in; 4) operations; 5) diversion; 6) linkages to care; and 7) community support. Participants also had the opportunity to develop their own work plans for implementing the use of medications in their programs when they return back home.

In 2016, as reported by Brown University, RIDOC became the first state correctional system in the U.S. to screen all incarcerated individuals for opioid use disorder and provide medications for treatment. A 2018 study found that the program reduced post-incarceration drug overdose deaths by more than 60%.

Tonya Tavares, MS, CCRP, ORN TTS and Lauranne Howard, MA, LCDP, Coordinator of Substance Use Disorder Issues at RIDOC

When correctional facilities across the country learned of this success, RIDOC became inundated with requests for guidance about how to implement similar programs back home. This is what prompted Lauranne Howard, MA, LCDP, Coordinator of Substance Use Disorder Issues, RIDOC, to reach out to ORN.

In response, ORN first worked with RIDOC to develop a video series to showcase RI’s model and assist other states in how to implement MOUD into their correction facilities. RIDOC's MOUD Program Full Video; Summary Video; and Program Background are available to all at no cost. Follow the links for additional videos.

Soon after completing the videos, ORN began planning the national conference targeting facility administrators, security supervisors, medical administrators, line staff, and other department of corrections staff as well as judges. So that others can benefit, the presentations were all videotaped and are currently uploaded for all to view..