Dr. Elias Klemperer, a VCBH Project Director and UVM assistant professor of psychiatry, has been awarded a Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network Rapid Innovation Grant (JCOIN) (J-RIG), a mechanism that supports small research studies on newly emerging policies, practices or interventions that address prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder in justice settings. Dr. Richard Rawson, professor of psychiatry at VCBH will be a co-investigator with Dr. Klemperer on the two-year study.
Dr. Klemperer’s project, A Statewide Evaluation of the Implementation of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Vermont Correctional Facilities and the Impact of COVID-19, will evaluate the statewide implementation of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in Vermont’s correctional facilities and its impact on treatment utilization and overdose after release. In 2018, VT signed Act 176 making it the second state to implement MOUD in correctional facilities statewide. Act 176 requires a statewide evaluation to be completed by January 2022. The JCOIN grant will allow Klemperer and his colleagues to contribute to the Act 176 evaluation and provide data-informed recommendations to Vermont’s legislature in addition to disseminating findings via peer reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Medications for opioid use disorder (buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone) are the only empirically based treatments for OUD and substantially reduce the risk of overdose and death. Initiation and use of MOUD during incarceration is especially beneficial to prevent relapse and promote engagement in treatment during the high-risk period after incarceration. Thus, MOUD for people who are incarcerated is crucial to engage people with OUD in treatment and prevent overdose and death. However, MOUDs are not available to most who are incarcerated in the United States. Efforts to provide MOUD in correctional facilities have been further complicated by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.