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County jails get grants to treat opioid use disorder in state program

Ryan McGrady
CC BY-SA 4.0

An expanded program targeting opioid treatment in county jails is getting a boost from national settlement money

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a three-year contract to Health Management Associates to run a program for up to 24 county jails seeking to start or expand medications for opioid use disorder programs with grants of up to $25,000 per jail. Jared Welehodsky is the State Assistant Administrator for MDHHS.

“People who are in jails are a really high-risk population to overdose so it’s really important for us to be able to provide continuity of care and services.”

Rick VandenHeuvel is a coach with Health Management Associates and quotes national numbers showing two-thirds of those incarcerated have a substance abuse disorder, and up to a third of those are opioid-related. The technical training is an opportunity to standardize and improve care across Michigan.

“Jails come in all shapes and sizes and ages and permutations. They’re vastly different, and every county is individual. That being said, we are very consistent with sharing what the standard of care is.”

That standard is medication-assisted treatment and related therapies to continue upon release. Both men say findings show such an approach actually increases community safety.

“Officer-safety inside the facility, detainee-safety within the facility, reduced overdose deaths, but also reduced recidivism which means less crime which means less victims.”

The expanded programs are funded through a nationwide settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers, with Michigan receiving more than $800 million over 18 years.

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