Region – Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian represented the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) before the House Bipartisan Task Force on Heroin and Opioids during a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., focused on medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for incarcerated individuals.
The task force, chaired by Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Tom MacArthur (R- NJ), is comprised of over 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from across the country.
“I want to thank the chairs and members of the task force for the opportunity to participate in today’s discussion,” said Koutoujian. “Every day sheriffs from across the country are innovating in an effort to address the opioid epidemic that is crippling families and communities from Massachusetts to Ohio, and beyond.”
Koutoujian presented on the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Medication Assisted Treatment and Directed Opioid Recovery (MATADOR) Program which is one of the longest running MAT programs in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the NSA, he underscored the importance of flexibility to customize programs that meet the needs of diverse communities across the country and ensures that federal funding gets to the local level without unnecessary restrictions that can impede participation.
“America’s sheriffs are proud to take part in this important discussion and they are well represented by Sheriff Koutoujian,” said NSA Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson. “We are excited to share with Congress the impactful solutions law enforcement brings to the table to thwart this crisis, including the Sheriff’s MATADOR Program.”
Launched in late 2015, MATADOR is a voluntary program for those with opioid use disorders returning to the community following incarceration. MATADOR, which uses an injectable form of naltrexone, is a multifaceted program that combines enrollment in health insurance with navigation services and critical casework follow-up.
Since its inception more than two years ago, 82 percent of those who completed six months in MATADOR have not recidivated. And while a comprehensive evaluation spearheaded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed recently incarcerated individuals are 120 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than the general population, as of June 2018, 96.2 percent of MATADOR participants – regardless of whether they completed six months – have not succumbed to a fatal overdose post release.