Providing Telehealth Support to Justice-Involved Individuals During COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

The Addiction Policy Forum and Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) launched a partnership to expand telehealth support to justice-involved substance use disorder (SUD) patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The criminal justice system is on the frontlines of the addiction crisis, with high rates of fatal drug overdoses and many patients who lack access to quality care. These stresses are being exacerbated by COVID-19, which puts more strain on justice and health systems and limits access to treatment and recovery services. Justice-involved patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) are particularly at-risk because of these changes.

Through this partnership, Addiction Policy Forum and FORE will extend the Connections App to patients in drug courts and other criminal justice diversion programs. Connections is a free smartphone app empirically demonstrated to support patients in recovery by reducing relapse and promoting prosocial engagement. Addiction Policy Forum offers Connections in partnership with CHESS Health. The app links patients to trained counselors and peers and provides daily check-ins, access to clinical support, features to track sobriety and treatment, and other patient-centered resources.

The app’s digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program, CBT4CBT, will be especially beneficial for justice-involved patients. Pioneered by Yale’s Kathleen Carroll, PhD, CBT4CBT has been shown in multiple studies to produce better outcomes for patients six months after treatment compared to control groups. Digital CBT complements medication approaches to treatment, the gold standard for care, by treating the “whole” patient.

In its 12-month partnership with FORE, Addiction Policy Forum will identify drug courts and other criminal justice diversion programs and enroll select programs in the project.

Addiction Policy Forum with support from the FORE Foundation is recruiting sites for this initiative that offers evidence-based digital therapeutics and telehealth to reduce relapse and support recovery.