Addiction Treatment Within U.S. Correctional Facilities: Bridging the Gap Between Current Practice and Evidence-Based Care

J Addict Dis. 2015;34(2-3):220-5. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2015.1059217.


The United States leads the world in creating prisoners. This epidemic of incarceration is largely due to the "War on Drugs," which has resulted in criminalization of the disease of addiction. Half of prisoners have an active substance use disorder yet a minority receives formal treatment. Opioid agonist maintenance is among the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Maintenance treatment reduces illicit opioid use, crime, recidivism, and cost, yet few correctional facilities provide this lifesaving treatment. Increased access to opioid agonist maintenance as well as reexamination of drug policy is necessary to address this costly and morbid incarceration epidemic.

Keywords: Incarceration; addiction; buprenorphine; jail; methadone; naltrexone; opioid; prison; substance use.

MeSH terms

  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Methadone / administration & dosage
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prisoners
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States


  • Narcotics
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone