(August 5, 2019)
Univ. of North Carolina researchers will collaborate with state and local governments to improve jails’ opioid treatments. According to UNC Health Care, the new program exists within the National Institute of Health’s national initiative to reform opioid recovery in correctional environments. UNC’s School of Medicine will collaborate with the North Carolina Dept. of Public Safety, and with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, assistant professor of social medicine, will co-investigate each study.
Both programs involve how well state opioid treatment serve inmates. The Dept. of Public Safety program links former inmates with medically-assisted treatments (MATs) to support them during their transition back into society. Its increased MAT access plans to keep patients in opioid recovery. The Durham County Sheriff’s Office program will also link county inmates to MATs and opioid resources. Specifically, they’ll receive health services from UNC’s Formerly Incarcerated Transition Program.
Because of the NIH’s funding, Dr. Brinkley-Rubinstein and her co-investigators will organize new opioid treatment plans. “With this funding, we will be able to expand access to treatment and implement innovative linking programs to stem the rising number of overdose deaths in North Carolina,” she said. However, also due to NIH’s larger program, they will also evaluate whether the programs prove effective for opioid response. University researchers in Massachusetts have joined this same national coalition.