DENVER (KDVR) — About $4 million in Colorado's opioid settlement fund will go toward drug treatment for people in state prisons, including support once they return to society.
A $3.94 million grant to the Colorado Department of Corrections will pay for medication and behavioral health counseling and care to treat opioid use disorder. It funds a two-year program.
“People who are released from prison without receiving any medical treatment are at least 40 times more likely than the general population to die from an overdose within two weeks of leaving prison,” the judiciary that awarded the grant said. Secretary Phil Weiser said. statement. “This is an important opportunity for our country to reduce recidivism, support the reintegration of people released from prison, and improve public safety.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid use disorder is a treatable chronic disease that involves “a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress.”
Opioids are painkillers that include heroin, fentanyl, and prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. Medication treatments include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
Colorado's prison program provides three months of drug treatment during a patient's sentence and three weeks of drug treatment upon release, with the goal of improving care once patients return to society.
AG: Opioid treatment in prisons reduces deaths
Weiser's office cited a similar program in Rhode Island, saying a medication treatment program for opioid use disorder reduced post-incarceration deaths by 61%.
Colorado's program targets state prisons, but the attorney general's office announced it will soon announce an initiative to combat opioid use disorder in local prisons.
Colorado is anticipating a total of $750 million in settlements with companies involved in the opioid industry. All funds must be used to fight the opioid crisis.