Medicating vs. Incarcerating Heroin Addicts


Recently, the Specialized Dockets Section of the Ohio Supreme Court hosted a Medication Assisted Treatment Forum to rally judges, federal agencies, lawmakers, physicians, and other drug treatment professionals on the issue of medicating heroin addicts.

The forum centered on the crucial role medication can play in the criminal justice system, and what types of systems need to be implemented in order to ensure there is criteria for incorporating medication into Ohio drug dockets in a responsible way.

According to The Sentencing Project, there are more than 1,600 drug courts scattered throughout all 50 states. Ohio’s drug courts offer specialized treatment for individuals facing drug offenses. In Fairfield County, Ohio, Judge Trimmer operates a “Fresh Start” program – a coordinated effort between himself, a probation officer, drug court coordinator, counselor, defense attorney, and prosecutor – that focuses on rehabilitating drug offenders, rather than incarcerating them.

These drug court programs have proven successful for many individuals, but medication for heroin addicts is not always available to offenders who participate in Ohio’s drug courts. The recent forum was a critical stepping stone in the path to making medication more readily available for offenders who really need it.

More Americans die every year from opiate overdose than shootings. Making medications more readily available to drug offenders (the right way) could be just one more way to ameliorate their outlook and reduce recidivism rates.

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