The Institute Teams up with Ellenville Judge to Offer Treatment Alternative for Opioid Abusers

Ellenville, NY (October 24, 2016) – The Institute for Family Health and Judge Matthew Parker of the Village of Ellenville Court have partnered to offer an innovative approach to criminal justice for those suffering from opioid abuse or dependence. Opioid abusers who are arrested in Ellenville will be referred by Judge Parker to the Institute’s Ellenville Family Health Center for next day medication assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is an evidence-based treatment for addiction to either heroin or prescription painkillers (opioids), and is recommended by the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

“We’re losing too many people to this opioid crisis in our community. The Institute reached out to me, wanting to know how they could help and I was immediately interested. My hope is that we can get people the treatment they need and turn their lives around. We’re not looking to put people in jail all the time – that is not the answer,” explained Judge Parker.

The initiative will allow arrested individuals to voluntarily register for treatment with the Institute during their court hearing. Individuals choosing medical treatment for addiction can also optionally consent to have information about their treatment adherence shared with the court. In those cases, Judge Parker may use information about the individual’s participation in treatment to recommend more lenient sentencing.

With opioid use on the rise nationally, public health experts agree that individuals should be medically treated for this form of substance abuse whenever possible. People suffering from opioid use disorders too often face criminal charges for their opioid use or related criminal activity, and as a result, rarely receive effective treatment that can reduce their dependence and permit them to lead productive lives in the community.

“We’re very happy to offer this alternative to the people of Ellenville that suffer from opioid use disorders. We now know that addiction is a disease which requires timely integrative care, not incarceration,” said Dr. Virna Little, the Institute’s senior vice president for Psychosocial Services and Community Affairs. “By providing this alternative to entering the criminal justice system, we hope to build a healthier and thriving community.”