The report shares lessons from opioid court practitioners and their partners about what quality Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) care, treatment, and use look like; how to promptly identify potential court participants and provide access to MOUD and specialty care; and how to identify and engage MOUD providers. The goal is to inform practitioners in treatment courts as well as partners of the courts, as they seek to improve access to MOUD and other specialty treatment services as part of the criminal legal process.
To manage the opioid crisis in the United States, the justice system has adapted to develop approaches that address opioid use disorder (OUD) while reducing incarceration. One important implementation of this policy is opioid intervention courts, which are specialized programs modeled on the experiences of other evidence-based treatment courts to offer immediate connections to medication for opioid use disorder, along with intensive supervision and support. Opioid courts have saved lives, but they also face barriers to enrolling participants and delivering MOUD to all who could benefit from it. This report intends to improve access to MOUD, specialty care, community support services, and peer advocates through opioid courts and other drug treatment courts. This report shares lessons from opioid court practitioners and their partners about what quality MOUD care, treatment, and use involve, how to promptly identify potential court participants, and provide access to MOUD and specialty care, as well as how to identify and engage MOUD providers. It also describes innovations developed for the COVID-19 pandemic that could make it easier to connect patients to MOUD in the future.