Addiction Treatment for Incarcerated Persons

What is this strategy?

Support evidence-based addiction treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment with at least one FDA-approved opioid agonist, to persons who are incarcerated in jail or prison.

Why addiction treatment for incarcerated persons?

Increasing the availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with FDA-approved medications, such as buprenorphine, within the justice system is critical to ensuring that all individuals have access to evidence-based treatment. Studies have shown that MAT reduces criminal activity, overdose risk, the spread of costly infectious diseases, and recidivism.

With the risk of overdose during the first two weeks post-release nearly 40 times higher among formerly incarcerated individuals compared to the general public, access to MAT within the justice system as well as expedited transitions to treatment in the community is critical.

Jail based MAT programs can take many different forms and can be implemented gradually based on the resources and capacity of the individual detention center.

Complete List of Resources

The following resources have been compiled by the NC Department of Health and Human Services to help local governments better understand this strategy.
The resources below are organized by level.

Jump to: Introductory Resources | Intermediate Resources | Advanced Resources

Introductory Resources

NC Association of County Commissioners Webinar

A webinar that discusses the North Carolina Formerly Incarcerated Transition (FIT) Program, jail-based MOUD, connections to care, and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s strategic community opioid response

“Breaking the Cycle: Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in the Criminal Justice System“

A blog post from SAMSHA that includes important reflections and resources about MAT in the criminal justice system

Using Medication-Assisted Treatment in Jails: A North Carolina Focus

A brief, 2-page overview of MAT in jails, including helpful resources and a NC case study

Intermediate Resources

Jail-Based MAT: Promising Practices, Guidelines and Resources

A resource to support jail administrators in providing effective treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder 

Effective Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder For Incarcerated Populations: A NACo Strategy Brief

A 4-page resource that covers information about effective treatments for OUD, evidence to support treatment, and best practices

Advanced Resources

A Primer for Implementation of Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution in Jails and Prisons

This primer outlines strategies for developing, coordinating, and monitoring and evaluating jail and prison-based programs

Jail-based Overdose Prevention Education and Naloxone Distribution Toolkit

A how-to toolkit for establishing a jail-based overdose prevention education program

Qualitative Study of Medication for Opioid Use Disorder in a Criminal Legal Setting

A North Carolina case study that offers recommendations for medications for opioid use disorder in criminal legal settings

Guidelines for Managing Substance Withdrawal in Jails

A detailed guidelines document for local government officials, jail administrators, correctional officers, and health care professionals

A circle graphic with an envelope image inside

For more information about addiction treatment for incarcerated persons, contact