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MATTERS is partnering with various correctional facilities to facilitate rapid referrals to treatment for opioid use disorder. Corrections referrals can occur in a court setting or at various levels of the criminal justice system.

MATTERS provides a streamlined referral approach to connect individuals to quality care in order to address opioid use disorder (OUD) successfully. MATTERS began its expansion across New York State in September 2020 and quickly saw its electronic referral platform demonstrate success when integrated into other environments and across health systems. Since then, the MATTERS team has onboarded and activated several primary care offices, OB/GYN offices, urgent care centers, and correctional facilities as referring locations.

This means that when a professional encounters someone who may be experiencing substance/opioid use disorder, they can offer them a rapid referral to a medication assisted treatment (MAT) program at an outpatient clinic of their choosing. Through the MATTERS referral network, individuals will be offered several support resources and be able to choose from appointments as soon as the next business day, all in about 5 minutes. This streamlined approach has been particularly helpful over the last decade combating the opioid epidemic and has been especially useful in operationalizing cross-sector referrals.

Correctional facilities and other organizations within the Criminal Justice Systems are especially important agency partners in addressing OUD; the Bureau of Justice found that nearly 60% of all prisoners or inmates meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse (2017). A brief released by the Pew Charitable Trust highlighted the benefits of integrating MAT into correctional facilities: improved public safety, less recidivism, reduced risk of overdose and post-incarceration death, and less transmission of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis-C.

The MATTERS Network has onboarded several sites from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the NYS Opioid Courts System, and other regional Criminal Justice agencies to facilitate these types of referrals to long-term treatment. The team has also developed videos, hand- outs, and web pages to connect individuals to supportive resources in their regions.