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Judge Joy Malek Oldfield, Ronya Habash and Lisa DiSabato-Moore Participate on SAMHSA/BJA National Expert Panel on Medication-Assisted Treatment Implementation

Summit County, Ohio: Judge Joy Malek Oldfield, Lisa DiSabato-Moore and Ronya Habash participated by invitation in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) national expert panel to develop guidance to the field for implementing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for individuals with substance use disorders involved in the criminal justice system. Oldfield is one of two judges who preside over Turning Point, a problem-solving adult drug court under the General Division of Summit County Court of Common Pleas. Turning Point Probation Officer Ronya Habash was also invited to participate. Lisa DiSabatoMoore, Summit County Juvenile Court Special Programs Administrator, served as a facilitator.

“The criminal justice system is on the front lines of addiction and recovery in our community. Accessing information from jurisdictions across the nation is a tremendous benefit to our continued use of MAT in the Turning Point Program,” stated Oldfield.

Medication assisted treatment is not new to Summit County. For years, treatment plans for offenders have included and incorporated effective forms of medication as recommended by comprehensive drug dependency assessments. As different types of medications have emerged, Summit County’s Turning Point Program has continued to apply the best practices and principles for addressing addiction in the criminal justice population. MAT implementation does face legal, ethical and practical challenges in other states and local jurisdictions. SAMHSA and BJA seek to advance this effort by developing technical assistance materials and strategies to increase and improve the implementation of MAT in the criminal justice system. “We’ve certainly seen success in using MAT with Turning Point participants. We know that recovery requires effective treatment; and, medication, as part of an integrated treatment plan, is effective for many drug abusing offenders,” stated Oldfield.

The two-day conference in Maryland kicked off Monday, January 29, with BJA, SAMHSA, and GAINS Center (Gather, Assess, Integrate, Network and Stimulate) officials providing a framework and context for the Expert Panel Meeting. Five professional stakeholder groups worked to identify common MAT implementation challenges and obstacles for their profession/stakeholder group; discussed unique and role-specific challenges and solutions that may vary by geography, size, and target population; the impact of disparities on the implementation of MAT and associated issues of access to treatment; and developed recommendations for what other MAT/system stakeholders need to know to successfully work with and engage them as colleagues.

Stakeholder groups were then joined by conference participants from national professional organizations and experts in the field representing current SAMHSA drug court or reentry grantees. Facilitators consisted of Federal, GAINS Center, and/or SME participants. The groups worked to develop content/output to inform role- or discipline-specific core checklist elements for MAT implementation. (More)

“I am grateful for the opportunity to participate on this important panel, sharing successful strategies, identifying obstacles and recommending solutions to effectively implement medication-assisted treatment in drug courts,” concluded Oldfield.


Press Release