According to a recent study, comparatively few people with opioid addiction difficulties who are ordered into rehab by the justice system receive methadone or buprenorphine. The study found that fewer than one in 20 people who are court-ordered to receive opioid addiction treatment are administered these medications, which are considered among the best treatment options by doctors. Compare that to the near 41 percent of patients who get treatment independent of the court-system, and the stark contrast is very apparent.

This approach sets up court-ordered patients for failure in rehab, according to the authors of the study. Instead of getting medical assistance, people who are in rehab through the legal system only receive peer counseling or psychotherapy. Research has shown that this is not as effective as using medication concurrently.

“A wide evidence base documents the effectiveness of medication treatment among justice-involved individuals in decreasing risk for overdose, reducing HIV and hepatitis C transmission, and improving criminal justice outcomes,” said Noa Krawczyk, lead study author in a Reuters Health article.

The study examined 2014 data from treatment programs throughout all 50 U.S. states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. It focused on adults in rehab for opioid abuse, including heroin and nonprescription methadone.


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