White House drug official visits Rhode Island prison program

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CRANSTON, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — A new Rhode Island prison program that provides medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction is getting attention from the Obama administration’s top drug official.

White House Director of National Drug Control Policy Michael Botticelli toured the state women’s prison in Cranston on Tuesday.

The state budget that was passed last month added $2 million to a pilot program treating inmates with methadone and other medications to reduce their dependence on opioids. Currently, it’s not common in prisons, but it is being offered at the ACL, where everyone is recovering from drug addiction.

Botticelli says providing good treatment in prison makes people less likely to commit crimes and less likely to overdose when they’re released. He wants Rhode Island’s program to be replicated nationwide.

He mentioned that “this is really important not only from a public health standpoint, but also a public safety standpoint as well as an economic standpoint.”

The state Department of Corrections has had a limited medication-assisted treatment program since the 1990s, but it’s being significantly expanded this year to reduce the state’s fatal overdose crisis.

With additional funding, inmates with longer sentences will be able to receive services.

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