judge with gavel

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can significantly improve outcomes for people in the legal system. They can:

  • Reduce the risk of dying by half,
  • Prevent relapse,
  • Decreasing illicit drug use,
  • Reduce parole violations and reincarceration rates.

The National Drug Court Institute provides an excellent overview of MOUD in its Drug Court Practitioner Fact Sheet: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders in Drug Courts.

Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Criminal Justice Settings” from SAMHSA provides an overview of the research and evidence base for implementing MOUD in criminal-legal settings. The guide includes real world examples, strategies to address challenges, and resources to assist in program implementation.

Implementing MOUD in drug courts

The following resources provide more information on integrating medications for opioid use disorders into drug court programs:

  • The National Association of Drug Court Professionals’s Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards contains national, research-based, best practice standards for behavioral health care for drug court practitioners.
    • Volume I includes guidance on medications for opioid use disorder (p. 44) and clinical diagnostic tools (p.55).
    • Volume II includes guidance on preventing opioid overdose (p. 17).
  • How to Develop an MAT Protocol, presentation from the 2012 NADCP conference. Steps and tools to develop and implement MOUD protocols in drug courts.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts: Recommended Strategies A report from the Legal Action Law Center that features three in-depth profiles of drug courts with effective MOUD programs and lessons from 10 courts in urban, rural, and suburban areas. It also provides the evidence behind MOUD, including its effectiveness in reducing illicit opioid use and criminal behavior.

Training on MOUD for drug courts

The National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) in collaboration with American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry developed a 9-module online training curriculum to educate drug court professionals on medications for substance use disorders with a major focus on opioid use disorders.

Advocacy for MOUD

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) and the American Correctional Association Joint Public Correctional Policy Statement on the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders for Justice Involved Individuals recommends:

  • Screening inmates for opioid use disorder.
  • Access to evidence based treatments for opioid use disorder, including medications,
  • Education on overdose response and naloxone,
  • Re-entry planning and considerations.

The Legal Action Center provides a number of useful reports and guides: