Miriam Hospital wins federal grant to study post-incarceration opioid treatment

THE MIRIAM HOSPITAL won a $215,000 grant to study addiction treatment of incarcerated people after their release. /COURTESY MIRIAM HOSPITAL

PROVIDENCE — Miriam Hospital has been awarded a federal $215,157 National Institutes of Health grant to study an innovative opioid addiction program for incarcerated individuals providing medication treatment upon their release that was expanded at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections last year.

The grant funds research into medication-assisted treatment led by principal investigator Dr. Josiah “Jody” Rich, an infectious disease specialist at the Lifespan-affiliated hospital and director of the hospital’s Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights.

“People with opioid use disorder who leave the correctional setting without medications are among those at the highest risk for overdose and death,” said Dr. Rich, who in addition to his work at The Miriam is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

“The comprehensive program developed at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, in partnership with CODAC and others, is having and will continue to have a substantial impact on reducing overdose deaths in Rhode Island. This grant will allow this program to be optimized and replicated across the nation.”

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“I am pleased that the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse recognize the innovative approach to addiction treatment and overdose prevention in Rhode Island,” said Gov. Gina M. Raimondo. “I remain committed to doing all that we can to fight this devastating overdose epidemic in our state.”

Ashbel T. Wall, II, director of the R.I. Department of Corrections, said, “With the support of the Governor and the General Assembly, we have been able to roll out treatment for opioid addiction to currently incarcerated individuals and link those individuals to ongoing treatment in the community. Our approach has been so successful that the Bureau of Justice Assistance has designated RIDOC as a ‘Center of Innovation’ and we have been receiving calls from colleagues around the country who are interested in our approach.”

The corrections program is run by CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, Rhode Island’s oldest and largest community provider of services for opioid use disorder.

“CODAC has been providing full service treatment to individuals, communities and families for over 45 years,” said Linda Hurley, CEO and president. “In 1994, we were honored to have been asked to provide treatment with medication for the extremely high-risk population transitioning from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections back into the community.  This program has grown exponentially over the ensuing years. CODAC is delighted to be invited to participate in this effort to explore a model that would increase access to care during a critical time when this population is particularly vulnerable to relapse.”

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@pbn.com.