“And Then COVID Hits”: A Qualitative Study of How Jails Adapted Services to Treat Opioid Use Disorder During COVID-19


ils in Massachusetts are among the first nationwide to provide correctional populations with medications to treat opioid use disorder (MOUD). The COVID-19 pandemic caused jails to pivot and adapt MOUD programming. To facilitate continued access to MOUD, both during incarceration and also at community reentry, jail staff quickly implemented changes in MOUD regulations and dosing protocols and established telehealth capacity. Despite these program adaptations, participants identified how COVID-19 increased health and social needs among correctional populations, reduced availability of community-based healthcare and recovery-supportive services, and introduced new factors that could undermine recovery. Innovations that participants wished to sustain as COVID-19 receded included telehealth capacity, smaller-sized therapeutic groups, and application of a public health approach to treat opioid use disorder among correctional populations.

Publication Year: 2023

Lead Author: C Harrington

Journal: Substance Use and Misuse