“New trial results published in The Lancet show that inmates forced off of methadone maintenance treatment upon incarceration—a widespread policy in U.S. prisons and jails—were significantly less likely to return to the effective addiction-controlling remedy after they were released than those who, because of the study, were allowed to remain in treatment.
“In the United States nearly 90 percent of the people undergoing methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for opioid addiction will be cut off from the medicine if they are imprisoned. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “the median death rate of opiate-dependent individuals in MMT is 30 percent of the rate of those not in MMT.” The treatment not only saves lives but also reduces the drug-seeking behaviors that lead to crime and the risk behaviors that lead to the spread of diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.
The new study is the first randomized controlled trial to test whether allowing people to continue MMT upon incarceration increases their likelihood of seeking treatment when they return to the community. The results show that it does. The implication of the finding is that the policy of interrupting MMT for people with addiction reduces their inclination to resume it.
“What we are doing with methadone in our correctional system is we are systematically taking people off it,” said study lead author Dr. Josiah Rich, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brown University and director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital. “It’s the only medication that is summarily stopped upon incarceration. This study questioned that policy to find out what happens.”
Source: Medicalxpress.com – May 28, 2015