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Ohio drug court addiction med pilot has been a success, study finds

A new Case Western Reserve University study found that medication-assisted treatment in drug courts led to reduced drug use, reduced crime and a higher likelihood that participants will find employment (Source: “Study: Meds boost drug court success,” Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, Feb. 19, 2016).

The study evaluated Ohio’s two-year Addiction Treatment Pilot Project that devoted $5 million to 10 drug courts across Ohio.

Although the study was not able to evaluate long-term benefits of using medication assisted treatment, it found that past-month drug use among participants declined 69 percent while crimes committed dropped 86 percent. Upon completion of drug court, 60 percent had a job and 91 percent had stable housing compared to 27 percent and 70 percent, respectively, before enrolling.

Drug overdose deaths in Ohio climbed to an all-time high of 2,482 in 2014 with 80 percent of them involving opiates, which include prescription pain killers and heroin. Case Western’s study comes in the midst of a second wave of the drug court project that invests $11 million over 18 months to 15 drugs courts. During the first six months of the project, which ends June 30, the money will pay for up to 1,337 drug court clients.

“Bringing Ohio’s behavioral health care and criminal justice systems together to address substance abuse is producing the positive results we anticipated,” said Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services director Tracy Plouck during an event in Hardin County last week. “While we’re making progress, and encouraged by these results, there’s still more work ahead.”