Collaborative Courts and Medication-Assisted Treatment in California
November 15, 2018
David Panush, President, California Health Policy Strategies
Tara Siegel, California Health Policy Strategies
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the leading evidence-based method for treating addiction. It involves both medication and behavioral health interventions. Medications for opioid use disorder include three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Use of such medications has many benefits, including a reduction in mortality.
Collaborative justice courts — also known as problem-solving courts — combine judicial supervision with rehabilitation services that are rigorously monitored. The focus is on client recovery, which can reduce recidivism and improve outcomes.
DUI/DWI (driving under the influence or driving while impaired) courts
Family dependency drug courts
Federal reentry courts
Mental health courts
Veterans treatment courts
The authors report that some courts are successfully including MAT as a treatment option for their clients. However, many courts have not yet done so for a variety of reasons.
To accelerate the offering of MAT to collaborative court clients, counties and courts will need to take concrete steps to connect these clients to MAT as a treatment option in the community, and expand the availability of MAT in California prisons and jails.
The policy brief offers three recommendations:
Disseminate additional information about MAT and how it can be integrated as a treatment option. This additional information can help to advise and assist collaborative courts, treatment providers, and law enforcement in developing local programs and protocols.
Consider how MAT can be integrated in jails and the community. Integration of MAT in both jails and the community is critical to assuring continuity of care for justice-involved people who frequently move between these systems.
Develop written MAT guidelines to delineate roles, responsibilities, and protocols that clarify processes and expectations. MAT guidelines can cultivate buy-in from skeptics, streamline processes, and ensure that clients have consistent, vetted options for treatment.