Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), considered the “gold standard” for opioid use disorder treatment by the FDA, is still limited in its availability. In Sedgewick County, the Wichita Jail recently described the erecting of a treatment center within the jail as a no-brainer. They join Crawford County, another Kansas jail, in allowing addiction treatment in their facility.

“I mean, something’s got to change,” Crawford County Sheriff Danny Smith said of the decision to allow addiction treatment. “Otherwise, it’s just a revolving door all the time.”

Medication-Assisted Treatment Allowed Inside Kansas Jail

About two-thirds of people involved in the justice system have a substance use disorder. Kansas is no exception. Addicted persons are often the people committing petty crimes such as theft and probation violations.

Previously, when a person on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) entered the jails, they would be forced to withdraw from their treatment. This would cause them to go into withdrawal and cause them to be more vulnerable to relapse.

For now, the Sedgwick County Jail is doing a trial of allowing people with substance use disorders to continue methadone and other types of MAT when they are booked into jail. Previously, the only people allowed to use MAT were pregnant women.

“Our jails are full of people who are our families, friends and neighbors,” said Col. Jared Schechter to WCUR. “If they make a mistake and break a law or have a probation violation and end up back in jail for a short period of time, should they be removed from this medication that’s helping them with their addiction?”

Kansas has some of the first jails to allow people to stay on MAT, especially in the more conservative Midwest. But everyone is looking for solutions to the opioid crisis.

Future Drug Treatment In Jails

Some jails in Kansas will be getting their own drug treatment programs, but no one is getting new prescriptions for Medication-Assisted Treatment in the jails.

However, many people who have opioid use disorder can get MAT for long periods in the prison system. This helps them abstain from drugs while in the prison system and helps give them motivation.

The jail systems seem to be becoming more open-minded in Kansas. The possibility of saving lives and reducing crime may be too tempting to pass up. After all, in the justice system, reducing recidivism is a goal.