Thursday, August 18, 2022

Fewer than half of all states had established treatment policies for accessing medication for opioid use disorder in state correctional facilities preceding COVID-19, and even fewer have adapted to the changing needs for treatment during the pandemic, according to updated data published today by Temple University’s Center for Public Health Law Research on 

While 18 states had established treatment policies for medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) prior to COVID-19, just 12 of those modified their policies after January 20, 2020 as of June 1, 2022.  

Eleven of the 18 states with established MOUD treatment policies before January 20, 2020, included policies aimed at ensuring the continuation of treatment for released populations. 

The data examine whether state correctional facilities explicitly established an MOUD treatment program and what adjustments the state made to ensure access to continued treatment during the pandemic. It also tracks the state variance among COVID-19 mitigation measures like early release and visitation restrictions. 

“As some states instituted early release orders for certain populations in their correctional facilities during the pandemic, access to medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) treatment for those released may have been affected,” said Jon Larsen, JD, MPP, a legal program manager at the Center and lead researcher on this project. “COVID-19 exacerbated the ongoing crisis in access to MOUD treatment, particularly for the already vulnerable populations in the criminal justice system.” 

The data were created with support from JCOIN grant U01DA050442 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of the NIH HEAL Initiative as part of a suite of data examining the pandemic-era response to the opioid crisis. Further updates to data related, including COVID-19 state Medicaid waivers for substance use disorder treatment and increasing access to buprenorphine and methadone during COVID-19, are expected soon. 

Explore more of the updated findings and other drug policy datasets at