The Community Re-Entry through Addiction Treatment to Enhance (CREATE) Opportunities Act would authorize the creation of the Medication-Assisted Treatment Corrections and Community Re-Entry Program. The bill authorizes the distribution of funds from the National Institute of Corrections to state, local, and tribal governments, contingent on an approved application. This funding would be used to establish and expand local medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs for individuals incarcerated in state or local government facilities. These programs would be guided and regulated by one or more corrections agencies and developed in consultation with qualified organizations.
The main purposes of these programs are to:
- Provide access to MAT programs by establishing new programs or expanding existing programs;
- Reduce the risk of opioid overdose by facilitating recovery from addiction; and
- Reduce the rate of reincarceration.
The bill describes what information must be submitted by state or local governments to be approved for funding. Examples of required information include the types of drugs that will be offered to patients, certifications of all of the clinicians involved at the correctional facility, and plans for outreach and education. Each beneficiary is required to submit a report within two years, and each year thereafter, on the efficacy of the program.
Lastly, the bill would require the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to create a review panel that would oversee the approval of grant applications. The DOJ would also be required to submit a yearly overview of the program.
MAT is the use of drugs to complement counseling and other non-pharmaceutical therapies to treat opioid use disorder. Some common examples of medications used to treat opioid use disorder include methadone and buprenorphine, both of which reduce withdrawal symptoms and alleviate drug cravings.
The leading cause of death in previously incarcerated individuals is opioid overdose. One study showed that the risk level for overdosing was 129 times greater for individuals recently released from prison or jail compared to that of the general population. Previously incarcerated individuals with opioid use disorder may be at a higher risk for overdosing or reincarceration due to a number of factors, including disrupted social networks, poverty, stigma, and interruptions in care. MAT, which is considered the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder, is rarely available within corrections facilities.