In their latest report, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) brought attention to a video highlighting medication-assisted treatment for people in the U.S. prison system coping with drug addiction.

NIMH summarized the video as follows: "introduced by Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Control Drug Policy, [the film] focuses on three ground-breaking MAT programs in Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Administrators, direct service providers, and inmates and former inmates in those states talk about the challenges and benefits of MAT programs."

Perspectives include personal experiences of substance addiction and its implications for families and life paths, as well as statistical and scientific views from recognized experts on psychoactive substance use. The programs aim to "reduce...recidivism...[as well as] risk for relapse in the community" by administering medication (Diana Harris, Missouri Department of Corrections). Specifically, they use Vivitrol, an injection that can be taken in weekly rather than daily doses and is effective but can pose an added risk of overdose if participants use heroin or other opiates while taking the medicine (Leslie Baker, Duffy Health Clinic).

Some see the programs as an important tool in promoting healthy lifestyles as well as avoidance of crime by virtue of uniting prison staff in a common effort. As As Captain Thomas Quinlivan of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections says, "the old mentality in corrections was the treatment staff against the security staff, butting heads, [and] nothing gets done like that."

Correction officers and treatment providers also speak about the difficulties with transitioning medication-assisted treatment out of prison and into a person's community. Educating a person's social network about addiction can greatly enhance their chance for a sustained recovery, they say, and financial plans for continued payments after government funding ceases are essential.

The success of Vivitrol-assisted treatment is a major conclusion of several speakers in the documentary. However, they also describe it as a "safety net" that works best "in combination with [social and psychological] treatment" to allow people to leave and stay out of prison (Mark Stringer, Missouri Department of Mental Health; Christopher Mitchell, Massachusetts DOC).

Watch the full video to learn more about the programs.