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June 20, 2023

UMass Chan, Worcester County sheriff team up on substance-use treatment

A modern hospital building with a sign that reads UMass Chan Medical School Photo | Timothy Doyle UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester

UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, jail, and house of correction are piloting a new program to study the substance abuse treatment options available to incarcerated populations.

The program will study substance-use treatment programs offered at the jail and the house of correction in Worcester, according to a June 13 announcement from UMass Chan. It will compare the Substance Abuse Treatment Opportunity Program, a six-month abstinence program, to other treatments in use at the jail. 

The pilot is funded by a $50,000 grant from UMass Chan’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. It is led by Ekaterina Pivovarova, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of family medicine and community health at UMass Chan, and will involve the 10-member substance abuse department at the Worcester County Jail.

The grant will be used to gather data about the number of overdoses and medical issues among individuals at the jail and house of corrections who participated in the abstinence programs, according to the release. It will also gather and analyze recidivism data for the same populations. In addition to the six-month STOP abstinence program, the pilot will examine a similar three-month program for those with shorter sentences, as well as a medicated program that uses Vivitrol, an extended-release medication.

“This is a great time to build relationships with the jail. They are changing some of the ways that they are providing treatment and expanding many of their programs. I’m excited that this is our first foray into it,” Pivovarova said in the announcement. “It might be the first formal relationship between UMass Chan and the jail, but there is overlap in the types of populations that we serve.”

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