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Opportunity for Treatment

Programs for opioid users in the criminal justice system

Encounters with law enforcement and the judicial system present an opportunity for people with opioid use disorders to receive intervention. While these individuals are often prevented from using drugs for a time due to a jail sentence or probation, likelihood of relapse once they are back on their own is high. In order to promote better outcomes for these patients, UHS has partnered with Broome County on a number of initiatives that aim to support people in the criminal justice system.

PRE-TRIAL EVALUATION: A partnership with the public defender’s office in Broome County provides substance use disorder evaluations after a person has been arrested but before they head to trial. UHS clinicians prepare an evaluation that can be used in court to help get the person into treatment quickly, whether it’s after their sentence or as part of their probation.

IN-JAIL COUNSELING: UHS has partnered with the Broome County Sheriff’s Office to offer therapy for people in jail. One female and one male clinician hold counseling groups once a week for interested inmates. “Our hope is that patients will establish a rapport with the clinician and be more likely to follow up with treatment when they get out of jail,” says Alan Wilmarth, administrative director of Behavioral Health for UHS.

PRE-RELEASE INJECTIONS: Inmates with opioid use disorders are given the option of receiving a long-acting naltrexone injection—which blocks the high people feel from opioids—at the end of their sentence. Patients are referred to New Horizons for follow-up treatment and further injections after release.

SHERIFF’S ASSISTANCE: The Broome County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Assisted Recovery Initiative (SARI) program allows anyone to call the Sheriff’s Office at any time to get a ride from an officer to an addiction crisis center, or to the emergency room if there isn’t room at the crisis center, so they can begin treatment right away.