Southwest Behavioral & Health Services Receives $524,659 Grant to Combat Opioid Dependence Within Criminal Justice System

Posted By on March 20, 2020

Arizona’s opioid epidemic claims an average of two lives every day, but a new funding source will help lower this number by giving incarcerated individuals a better shot at sobriety.

Southwest Behavioral & Health Services, a local nonprofit that seeks to improve communities by offering mental health and psychiatric services and substance abuse opportunities for residents, received a $524,659 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help treat Opioid Use Disorders within the state’s criminal justice system.

The funds given will allow SB&H to expand its Medication Assisted Treatment services within the criminal justice system, enabling 200 incarcerated individuals with OUDs to undergo opioid-specific treatment annually for three years.

“This SAMHSA grant paves the way in bringing valuable resources to a group of individuals who need easily accessible substance abuse and dependence treatment,” said Southwest Behavioral & Health Services CEO Steven Sheets. “This partnership will increase MAT services and enhance access to care. Our goal is to improve outcomes for individuals suffering from opioid use addiction and the systems trying to help them.”

Made possible thanks to the combined efforts of the presiding chief justice, the sheriff, Maricopa County’s chief probation officer, the correctional health system’s medical director and other community behavioral health professionals, the program is one of only a handful in operation across the nation. The ultimate goal of the program is to help facilitate long-term recovery among incarcerated individuals, which in turn reduces criminal behavior, and as a result, recidivism.

“Most U.S. correctional facilities do not initiate MAT services for incarcerated individuals or continue services upon their release from prison,” Sheets said. “Because of this, the highest rates of opioid overdose for individuals in the criminal justice population occur within weeks of being released from prison. We hope to change that.”

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