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Va. DOC receives $1.2M grant to enhance substance use disorder programs in state facilities

One program is aimed at assessing the efficacy of long-lasting injectable opioid agonists in the ongoing treatment of inmates diagnosed with opioid use disorders


Virginia Department of Corrections

By Sarah Roebuck

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Corrections has been selected to receive a $1.2 million grant to fund three projects aimed at addressing substance use disorder within the state’s correctional facilities, the DOC announced in a news release.

The announcement comes after VADOC was named a recipient of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority Funding to the Agencies of the Commonwealth.

The first initiative will allocate resources for six dedicated clinical social workers, specializing in opioid-use disorder therapies, across six VADOC facilities running Medication Assisted Treatment programs.

The second initiative is a trial program aimed at assessing the efficacy of long-lasting injectable opioid agonists in the ongoing treatment of inmates diagnosed with opioid use disorders, under the guidance of VADOC’s medical director.

The third initiative involves the creation of an educational video on Substance Use Disorders for all inmates new to VADOC custody. This video will shed light on addiction as a chronic but treatable disease, and outline the various program options available to inmates within the VADOC.

“The Virginia Department of Corrections greatly appreciates this funding from the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority,” said VADOC Director Chadwick Dotson. “The VADOC remains committed to addressing Substance Use Disorder in the face of the opioid and fentanyl epidemic affecting the Commonwealth and United States.”

For many years, the VADOC has been actively addressing the opioid crisis in Virginia. In 2017, the National Governor’s Association chose the VADOC to participate in a learning lab, alongside seven other states. The goal was to devise strategies to enhance access to addiction treatment for inmates and probationers struggling with opioid use disorder.

In July 2018, the VADOC launched its Medication Assisted Treatment Reentry Initiative. This initiative offered intensive Substance Use Disorder programs and naltrexone — an injectable medication known to prevent relapses into alcohol or substance use — to individuals being discharged from designated pilot locations.

In March 2021, the MATRI program underwent further expansion when the VADOC permitted the ongoing use of buprenorphine at its Community Corrections Alternative Program facilities. Due to the program’s successful implementation at the CCAP facilities, it was extended across the VADOC in 2023. Now, Medications for Opioid Use Disorder are accessible throughout the Department of Corrections, subject to a physician’s review.