RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Corrections has been named a recipient of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority (OAA) Funding to the Agencies of the Commonwealth.
The Department will receive more than $1.2 million to fund three projects in the upcoming year aimed at addressing Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
The first project will fund six contracted, specialized clinical social workers to support opioid-use disorder therapies at six VADOC facilities that operate Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs. The second is a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of long-acting injectable opioid agonists in the continued care of inmates with diagnosed opioid use disorders, which will be overseen by the VADOC’s medical director. The third project is the creation of a video that provides SUD education to all inmates entering VADOC custody. The video will focus on addiction as a chronic, yet treatable illness and will highlight the program options that are available to inmates within the VADOC.
The approved projects were selected through a competitive application review process. The awards are the first allocation of OAA funds for state agencies since Virginia received its first set of national settlement payments from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids in 2022.
“The Virginia Department of Corrections greatly appreciates this funding from the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority,” said VADOC Director Chadwick Dotson. “The VADOC remains committed to addressing Substance Use Disorder in the face of the opioid and fentanyl epidemic affecting the Commonwealth and United States.”
For years, the VADOC has progressively responded to the opioid epidemic in Virginia. In 2017, the VADOC was selected by the National Governor’s Association to participate in a learning lab designed to develop strategies to expand access to addiction treatment for inmates and probationers with opioid use disorder along with seven other states. In July 2018, the VADOC initiated its Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative (MATRI) and provided intensive SUD programs and naltrexone (an injectable medication that can help prevent relapses into alcohol or substance use) to individuals released from specific pilot sites. The MATRI program expanded again in March 2021, when the VADOC allowed the continuation of buprenorphine at its Community Corrections Alternative Program (CCAP) facilities. Due to its success at CCAP facilities, the program expanded throughout the VADOC in 2023. Medications for Opioid Use Disorder are available throughout the DOC based on review from a physician.
VADOC has provided rapid REVIVE! training and two doses of naloxone to inmates and probationers released from 15 pilot locations since 2019. Additionally, the Department recently implemented a marketing campaign using posters drawn by incarcerated individuals to dissuade illicit substance use while incarcerated.
Various levels of SUD care are offered throughout the VADOC, including residential inpatient services, intensive outpatient groups, process groups, and peer mentor and peer support services.
For those on community supervision, the VADOC offers contracted SUD treatment services with vendors and Community Services Boards that include inpatient residential treatment, intensive outpatient, and SUD assessment and referral services.
Continuing education and training on substance use disorder is an important aspect of service delivery. The VADOC offers various forms of virtual and in-person training and opportunities to attend addiction-specific conferences and webinars to further addiction education.
Read more on VADOC’s Re-Entry resources.