In celebration of September National Recovery Month and in support of evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the Bernalillo County Department of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) announces the implementation of the buprenorphine maintenance program at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC). DBHS has been actively working with MDC and Recovery Services of New Mexico (Recovery Services) to provide buprenorphine maintenance dosing to individuals incarcerated at MDC and diagnosed with an opioid use disorder. This effort is part of a system-wide approach to expand the availability of behavioral health services through the Behavioral Health Initiative to community members, families and individuals with behavioral health needs within the county.
In 2019, New Mexico had the 12th highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. Prescription opioids and heroin were among the most common drugs causing unintentional overdose death for the period 2015-2019 at 46% and 36% respectively. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has proved to be clinically effective to significantly improve patient survival, increase retention in treatment, decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders, and increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment.
On Sept.1, 2021 Recovery Services began implementation of a comprehensive Buprenorphine maintenance program for an average of 22 inmates per day diagnosed with an opioid use disorder as identified by MDC intake screening processes. Maintenance of Buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment will ensure that individuals who are engaged in community-based recovery efforts can continue to receive supports while incarcerated at MDC and will subsequently support successful reentry upon release. In addition to the on-site dispensing of a generic mono-product buprenorphine tablets, Recovery Services will provide comprehensive bio-psychosocial clinical assessment of individuals; behavioral counseling and case management services as necessary; and medication assessment by on-site medical providers.
“Bernalillo County’s trailblazing efforts to implement medication-assisted treatment in the jail setting has afforded us the opportunity to learn from efforts and offer support to our national partners also seeking to implement similar programming. Individuals incarcerated at MDC are primarily part of our most vulnerable populations and are experiencing a high need for substance use supports, and although incarcerated, we have an obligation to offer behavioral health supports to all community members. This collaborative approach between our detention facility and community-based providers ensures that we are maximizing resources and effectively supporting the community,” says Julie Morgas Baca, Bernalillo County manager.
“The comprehensive Buprenorphine maintenance program now being added is an extension and expansion of a long lasting partnership between the MDC and Recovery Services which began in 2009. Recovery Services, a BayMark Health Services company, developed the first fully licensed correctional opioid treatment program (OTP) in New Mexico and has operated it successfully and without interruption since that time. This was one of the nation’s first public-private partnerships to offer opioid treatment of this magnitude within the confines of a correctional institution,” states Ed Hunt, vice president of correctional services, BayMark Health Services.