An addiction recovery program at the Yamhill County Jail in McMinnville, Oregon recently commenced a pilot program to help inmates struggling with substance use disorders.
The Yamhill County Correctional Facility (YCCF) has been co-running a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program in coordination with the Willamette Valley Comprehensive Treatment Center after gaining approval from the Oregon Health Authority.
The program was initialized by Sheriff Tim Svenson and Captain Richard Geist of the YCCF on May 1.
“Sheriff Svenson and I were attending the Opioid Summit in McMinnville, Oregon in November of 2016,” Geist said. “We were speaking with Dr. John McIlveen from the Oregon Health Authority. We explained to him that we are seeing more and more of an increase of heroin addiction in Yamhill County and an increase of individuals coming into the jail who are going through opiate withdrawals while in the jail.”
Geist stated that McIlveen offered to help the Sheriff’s Office obtain funding to implement MAT for the addiction recovery program in the jail.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is in charge of approving all addiction treatment program grants as well as authorizing health plans or licenses and certificates in the state of Oregon.
The OHA runs MAT-approved programs under Chapter 415, which is a clause in the legislature that gives their organization the options to license, create and approve substance abuse treatment programs throughout the state.
Through this clause, they were able to approve funding to Willamette Valley Comprehensive Treatment Center for MAT services that could also include inmates from YCCF.
Willamette Valley is a substance abuse facility that provides MAT for adults with opioid use disorders. The medications they provide include methadone, Subutex, Suboxone and Vivitrol. Along with their addiction recovery program, they offer various therapeutic treatment options.
The addiction treatment center has services available for any inmate that is processed through the YCCF.
“All individuals coming into custody at YCCF go through a medical screening,” Geist said. “If an individual advises they use opiates and will be going through withdrawals our medical staff will obtain a urine sample from them. If they test positive for opiates and are in active withdrawals, then we can look at placing them in the MAT program.”
A pilot study led by Northwest Professional Consortium Research on the effectiveness of MAT in the criminal justice system found that participants treated with extended-release naltrexone experienced a 35 percent decrease in the monthly rates of positive drug or alcohol tests results.
YCCF and Willamette Valley coordinated the establishment of the addiction recovery program for a couple months but encountered some issues early on, including having inmates transported to the clinics and getting them to remain in treatment.
“We have to wait sometimes until after their first court appearance [to check] if they have new criminal charges and talk with their probation officer to see how long they might be in custody on a sanction before starting them on the program.”
Geist highlighted that his team has not seen a significant impact on the area because the addiction recovery program is still fairly new.
“Sheriff Svenson and I are hoping to show everyone that programs like this are needed to combat the opioid epidemic that has taken over,” he said. “People now know we have the program and they ask for it when they come into custody, which is a start.”