Addiction Policy News

MWSAM Supports Legislation to Improve Access to Addiction Treatment for Individuals who are Incarcerated

April 28, 2021


On April 28, the Midwest Society of Addiction Medicine (MWSAM) submitted a letter of support for SB521, which would require that state entities in Missouri responsible for individuals who are incarcerated provide screening and assessment for substance use disorder (SUD), as well as access to various forms of medications for addiction treatment (MAT).


MWSAM's letter focused on the benefits of improving access to addiction treatment for individuals who are incarcerated. Specifically, MAT has been shown to reduce recidivism, illegal drug overdose deaths, and infectious disease transmission both inside jails and prisons, but also in the community. Furthermore, improving access to addiction treatment for incarcerated individuals is a cost-effective public health measure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that every dollar invested in addiction treatments yields a return of $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to healthcare are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1.


MWSAM also noted that as written, SB521 would only allow a social worker, licensed professional counselor, licensed psychologist, or psychiatrist to assess individuals who are detained or incarcerated for a SUD. The letter stressed that the American Board of Preventive Medicine offers a certification in the subspeciality of addiction medicine for which non-psychiatrist physicians are eligible. Therefore, the legislation should be amended to include “board certified addiction medicine physicians in the list of healthcare professionals who may assess individuals who are incarcerated for SUD.


Read the letter here.


Read the bill here.