Webinar Delivers Opioid Screening and Assessment Solutions for Law Enforcement, Justice Practitioners

(Chicago) — More than 1,300 people across the country registered for a July 10 webinar offering solutions for law enforcement and justice system partners on the front lines of responding to the national opioid epidemic.

Moderated by Allison Upton, senior policy analyst at the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, and hosted by CSG’s National Reentry Resource Center, the webinar, entitled “Opioid Addiction Screening and Assessment for People in the Criminal Justice System,” focuses on best practices for screening and assessing people who have opioid addictions and are in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system.

The webinar features a review of available screening instruments and how police and other justice practitioners and first responders can select tools and strategies that work best for their programs and jurisdictions.

Opening remarks were offered by Upton and Andre Bethea, policy advisor for corrections at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, which provided funding support for the webinar. Speakers on screening tools and intervention strategies included Roger Peters, PhD, clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida, as well as Jac Charlier and Phillip Barbour of the Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) at TASC.

“The tremendous interest in the webinar and these tools speaks to the interest in screening and opioids right now, as law enforcement, justice partners, researchers, behavioral health experts, and community leaders are all coming together to find ways to save lives,” said Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at CHJ. “Screening tools are one of the quickest and easiest ways to identify people who need help right away.”

Peters offered an overview of the need for screening and assessment tools, including the high rates of opioid use disorders and the prevalence of co-occurring mental disorders. In terms of screening, there are a number of specific considerations for opioid addiction, which may include such factors as severity of withdrawal, interactions with alcohol and other drugs, the individual’s overdose history, mental health and medical issues, prior injuries and use of pain medication, risk-taking behavior, criminal justice and/or child welfare system involvement, functional aspects of use, family history, and individual strengths and skills.

Given the urgency of the epidemic and the complexity of issues around opioid addiction, he noted that there are many implications for staff training in signs and symptoms of use as well as withdrawal.

“The good news is we have a wide variety of screening and assessment instruments that are available,” said Peters. “Many of them are free-of-charge, non-proprietary instruments, and these include screens for opioid use withdrawal.”

Barbour, master trainer at CHJ, discussed the development and use of the TCU Drug Screen 5 – Opioid Supplement, co-developed by CHJ with Dr. Kevin Knight and Dr. Patrick Flynn of the TCU Institute of Behavioral Research. The free tool can help determine earlier in the screening and referral process if there is an immediate need for services to address opioid use problems.

“The TCU Drug Screen 5 screens for mild to severe substance use disorders, and is particularly useful when determining placement and level of care in a very quick way,” said Barbour. As a practical resource to help determine who needs immediate access to treatment, “it helps first responders and non-clinical personnel to implement a simpler, faster way to identify people in need of intervention for opioid addiction,” he said.

“There are pathways, or frameworks, that help us understand what this newly emerging field of pre-arrest diversion looks like,” added Charlier. He described five pathways in which first responders, and particularly law enforcement, are connecting to substance use treatment and behavioral health services in communities, such as the Naloxone Plus model, a pre-arrest diversion model that rapidly connects people to treatment after an overdose.

Rather than seeking to replicate a single program model to respond to opioid addiction, Charlier advised, jurisdictions are better served by responding to the problem as well as resources specific to their communities, and seek to “solve that problem by putting the pathways together in the combination that works for your jurisdiction, based on the resources you have, the leadership you have within your police/treatment/community settings, and other factors like your recovery community, time to treatment—all these pathways and frameworks have different combinations, different ‘recipes,’ if you will, that are needed to make them go.”

TASC’s Center for Health and Justice is the national training partner for TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research, including training on the TCU Drug Screen 5 – Opioid Supplement. For training on the opioid supplement and other TCU resources, or for other resources for law enforcement and justice systems in responding to the opioid epidemic, contact Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at CHJ.

 

 

 

 

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Supporting Criminal Justice Reforms and Treatment Access: National Initiatives

(Chicago) – The majority of people who enter the justice system have a substance use or mental health condition, or both. In many cases, deflection and diversion to appropriate services can happen at the very front end of the system, even before arrest.

TASC and its Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) are active in a number of national initiatives to advance knowledge, policy, and practice to divert eligible participants away from the justice system and into appropriate services in the community.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

Passed by Congress and signed into law in 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is groundbreaking legislation that, among its many provisions, supports justice diversion practices, medication-assisted treatment, and naloxone for first responders to help curb the opioid overdose epidemic. TASC played a leading role in the bill’s inclusion of the first-ever Congressional authorization of funding for pre-booking police deflection programs. TASC and CHJ are partnering with the Addiction Policy Forum to help advance these innovative practices.

MD Magazine Peer Exchange Video Series on Addiction and Treatment in the Justice System

TASC’s Jac Charlier and Phillip Barbour are featured in a 14-part video series entitled Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Abuse Cases: A Path to Success. The series is produced by MD Magazine, a portal that provides physicians with clinical news, information, and resources designed to help them provide better care to patients. In the series, Charlier, Barbour, and other experts discuss an array of issues around drug treatment and medication-assisted therapies in justice and reentry settings.

Data-Driven Justice Initiative

The Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) is a coalition of over 100 cities, counties, and states that have committed to employing data-driven strategies to divert individuals out of the justice system and into care, with a specific focus on the small percentage of people with substance use and/or mental health disorders who account for a disproportionate amount of health and justice resources. This groundbreaking effort is merging the fields of big data and criminal justice reform.

Working with the National Association of Counties, TASC is providing technical assistance to the State of Illinois and five small-to-medium counties outside of Illinois as they pursue their respective DDJ initiatives. TASC is helping these jurisdictions develop partnerships, identify core data sources, and plan for pilot programs to address local concerns.

Roll Call Videos for Law Enforcement

The Center for Health and Justice at TASC produced two videos to be used by local police departments during roll call to help law enforcement officers and leadership better understand the nature of addiction and improve community relations as a foundation for deflecting drug-involved individuals into treatment rather than arrest. This project was funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Following recent consulting work to help initiate Baltimore’s Stop, Triage, Educate, Engage, and Rehabilitate (STEER) program, Charlier recently was quoted in the Wall Street Journal regarding the value of law enforcement deflection initiatives. “The policing world, through deflection efforts, is understanding that access to treatment and follow-up to treatment is a legitimate approach to public safety,” he said.

Read more about TASC ‘s national work and other news here.

TASC’s Jac Charlier (far right) and Phillip Barbour (second from left) appear in MD Magazine Peer Exchange series.

TASC’s Jac Charlier (second from right) and Phillip Barbour
(second from left) in MD Magazine Peer Exchange series.