The Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition seeks to advocate for those most at risk over overdose. No population is more at risk than those leaving correctional facilities. According to research from American Public Health Association, in the first two weeks after being released from prison, returning citizens are 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than someone in the general population. Correctional facilities in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties are already taking the needed step to address this issue by distributing Naloxone the overdose reversal medication to those returning citizens, but we must expand this effort to every county.
Naloxone distribution while vital is not enough to protect our returning citizens. We must also ensure that individuals in correctional facilities have access to medication assisted recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, “Medication-Assisted Recovery” is a practical, accurate, and non-stigmatizing way to describe a pathway to recovery made possible by physician-prescribed and monitored medications, along with other recovery supports, e.g., counseling and peer support. Although no medications cure dependence on drugs or alcohol, some can play a significant and lifesaving role in helping people begin and sustain recovery. The Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition supports the use of and access to all three FDA approved medications for treating Substance Use Disorder.
SAMHSA: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in the Criminal Justice System: Brief Guidance to the States
NCCHC: Jail-Based MAT: Promising Practices, Guidelines, and Resources for the Field
NCCHC: Naloxone in Correctional Facilities for the Prevention of Opioid Overdose Deaths
The Baltimore Sun: Fight drug epidemic in prisons and jails
Reuters: Overdose 101: New York inmates trained to use opioid antidote kit
The Baltimore Sun: Medically treating opioid use disorder in prison saves lives