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Massachusetts Groups Unite to Help Released Inmates Reduce Illness Risk

March 26, 2020

The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) has partnered with several government and health organizations in Massachusetts to assist released inmates who may face the dual threats of coronavirus transmission and opioid overdose.

With many correctional facilities considering early release of some inmates to reduce the risk of virus transmission, individuals with opioid use disorder will require sound discharge planning to reduce potential harm in the community. P.A.A.R.I. has partnered with Boston Medical Center's Office Based Addiction Treatment Program, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and three Massachusetts sheriff's departments to reduce overdose risk for this group.

The initiative will distribute survival kits that will include 4 mg of nasal naloxone; localized resources to facilitate referrals to services, with an emphasis on telephone and virtual support; and COVID-19 and fentanyl safety information, among other assistance.

The Boston Medical Center program is providing screening to inmates via telehealth under the initiative, and in appropriate cases will offer immediate access to medication for opioid use disorder upon an individual's release from custody.

A statement from P.A.A.R.I., which has facilitated treatment-focused approaches to combating the opioid crisis from law enforcement agencies, reads that inmates released from custody “will be at an increased risk for fatal overdose, at a time when area hospitals and medical care centers are being burdened significantly as they work to treat COVID-19 patients.”

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