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Opiate treatment in the criminal justice system: a review of evidence rated programs

January 2016

J. Mitchell Miller, O. Hayden Griffin III, Courtney Marciá Gardner


This article examines the national effort to treat drug offenders and disrupt drug crime trajectories via treatment initiatives regarding opiate abuse. Funding for program implementation is driven by the efficacy of proposed recovery strategies as increasingly represented by the inclusion of established evidence based practices and treatment. This article looks at the role of Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opiate addiction and provides an analysis of opiate treatment programs designated as effective or promising in a national evidence based registry. This article finds scant evidence for rated opiate treatment programs listed in The authors find that there is an absence of implementation and process evaluation components that demonstrate efficacy for opiate treatment programs within the criminal justice system.

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Policy Implications

This article may be useful in exploring the broader policy implications of MAT programs within the criminal justice system amidst the national effort to treat opiate abuse. The authors argue that essential to this work is program fidelity research; as it helps distinguish between implementation and theoretical failure regarding program performance. It may be useful in assessing methods of evaluation toward justice policy and practices such as MAT for opiate treatment.

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