STAT

One state takes a novel approach to opioid addiction: access to treatment for all inmates

Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to offer medication-assisted treatment to its entire prison population — in hopes it will reduce recidivism.

CRANSTON, R.I. — As the country reckons with an unfolding opioid crisis, and officials from both parties talk about improving access to care, jails and prisons remain treatment deserts. Few facilities provide any addiction treatment, and when prisoners are released, they return to the same environments — and the same triggers — that fostered their addiction in the first place.

Here, at its campus of squat brick buildings, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections is trying something different. Over the past year, it has expanded its so-called medication-assisted treatment program, becoming the first state system to offer such a broad range of therapies — including all three drugs approved to treat addiction — to its entire prison population.

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