By Alana Cerrone
Of the 13,000 people who move through the ACI every year, 15% have an opiate use disorder, and their risk of overdosing as soon as they get out is very high.
Ramon Barriera says he could have overdosed and died when he got out, like two of his friends did.
"When you come out, you're gonna relapse, you're gonna use. That's just the way it is."
His story would've ended much differently without medication-assisted treatment.
"I wouldn't be here to tell the story."
Before the program was implemented at the ACI, treatment didn't exist for every inmate suffering from addiction.
“In the past we would take people off methadone. We would leave them on for 7 days and then taper them off."
Now, the Department of Corrections screens inmates at intake, and if necessary, puts them on the program within one day. That's down from a lag of two weeks.
"Overdose deaths for recently-released inmates decreased by 61% since we started this program."
Inmates are at a high risk of overdosing when they get out of prison because the tolerance they build up while using is cut back while they're incarcerated and out of the reach of drugs.
In fact, that risk is greatest over the first six weeks of their release.
"60% of the fatal overdose deaths in 2014 had been incarcerated in the past."
Rhode Island is the first state to have a full treatment option for inmates, and the program has become a model for others.
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