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Preventing Recidivism with MAT

Preventing Recidivism with MAT

The tendency of convicted criminals to re-offend once they’re released is called recidivism, and it’s why many prisons across America seem to have a “revolving door” policy. It plays a significant role when considering the large percentage of inmates who have substance use disorder, both in regards to how they first ended up behind bars and how they had more than one stint.

While there are different levels of recidivism (general, violet, and sexual), those who are incarcerated due to drug-related offenses have historically been failed by the system. Now that addiction is finally being recognized as a disease, laws are changing, and programs like medication-assisted treatment are becoming available to inmates with substance use disorder, and it’s having a positive impact on recidivism.

Prisoners with Substance Use Disorder

When people grapple with the depths of opioid addiction, they can find themselves in trouble with the law. Whether it’s unlawful possession of narcotics or other criminal behavior, it’s almost always directly related to their substance use disorder. Once these people are behind bars, their access to drugs is limited to illegally smuggled substances within the facility, or they’re forced to go through painful withdrawals and remain sober until they’re released. Both possibilities create an increased risk for recidivism because the root of their criminal behavior, addiction, isn’t being addressed. This shows that the justice system isn’t necessarily facing a crime issue, but a care issue but not implementing much-needed health policies.

Treating Prisoners with MAT

Almost all inmates with medical needs that require medication are tended to while incarcerated, but those with substance use disorder have yet to be recognized as sick with a chronic illness. Only recently, state policymakers have begun the discussion of making MAT available in correctional facilities nationwide. The abundant evidence that shows medication-assisted treatment can improve and change the lives of those incarcerated is becoming difficult to deny, and changes will need to be made on a federal level to have any impact on the national opioid epidemic.

In regions where trial MAT programs were run in prisons, the statistics show promising changes. Not only does MAT decrease the likelihood of reoffenders, but it also saw a drop in new offenses as well. One of the most critical roles of MAT during incarceration is to prevent overdose deaths upon inmate release, which is another severe problem the recidivism cycle causes. Overall, providing inmates with MAT and a chance at rehabilitation will also reduce prison overcrowding. With lessened re-offenses, law enforcement can spend more time convicting more urgent matters, such as those who are importing and manufacturing illicit substances that are found on the streets.

Services at Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center

Recovery Services of New Mexico is proud to provide MAT for every eligible Bernalillo county detention center inmate. We believe that these much-needed services will help those with substance use disorder, their families, and communities recover from the opioid crisis that has affected so many lives. For more information about our inmate services, read more here or contact us today.


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