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More incarcerated individuals will have access to substance use disorder treatment in the coming months

Rebecca Smith

The Missouri Department of Corrections is expanding its medication-assisted treatment program, making more types of medication available to more people in prison.

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, combines psycho-social treatment with medications that reduces cravings associated with withdrawal and relapse in patients with opioid or alcohol use disorders.

The program expansion is funded in part by funds the Missouri Department of Corrections received – $4 million a year for the foreseeable future – from a class action lawsuit last year against Purdue Pharma. Purdue is an OxyContin manufacturer sued for its role in the opioid addiction crisis.

Previously, the DOC only provided inpatient MAT to inmates undergoing court-ordered rehab as part of their sentencing –including injectable drugs like Vivitrol.

Scott O’Kelly, the assistant director in the Division of Offender Rehabilitative Services, said the DOC will soon provide MAT to any incarcerated people with substance use disorders when it’s medically appropriate.

“So prior to this, really all we could use was … Vivitrol injections and this opened it up to be able to prescribe everything, and it's going to be good,” O’Kelly said. “And we're still in the process of rolling that out. Because it's a … pretty big change for us and you know, a lot of moving parts.”

After the Missouri Legislature updated the Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 191 in August 2021, MAT came to include five injectable treatments in addition to Vivitrol. These medications will also be available to all eligible inmates.

O’Kelly added that the DOC will also be able to provide oral medication within the next few months.

Sophia Anderson is a journalism and sociology double-major, emphasizing in investigative and data reporting for digital and radio.
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