In a major shift in how jails are treating prisoners with drug addiction, seven county jails began a pilot program Sept. 1 in which they will offer inmates all three FDA-approved forms of medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Since Sunday, the seven jails have provided medication to around 100 inmates.
Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, who helped craft the pilot program as last year’s chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, said nearly 75% of those incarcerated in county jails have a substance use problem. Friedman said jailing people for addiction has not worked; the system must offer treatment. Providing medication-assisted treatment in jail, she said, “provides people with a pathway to recovery and helps reduce recidivism throughout the system.’’