Finding Hope


Idaho Department of Correction rolls out new pilot project for substance abuse treatment

Posted at 6:51 AM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 11:43:13-05

The Idaho Department of Correction is working to help those struggling with substance abuse disorders in a unique way.

They're kicking off a pilot project that will provide telehealth services. Over one hundred agencies and organizations from across the country applied to be a part of the pilot, with only 33 applicants selected to participate.

“In 2020, the need for substance use disorder treatment for people involved in the criminal justice system has increased,” said Jessica Hulsey, Founder and CEO of Addiction Policy Forum. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the ability to provide SUD treatment to this population. The Connections App pilot-project offers agencies an additional resource that can help improve outcomes for individuals with criminal justice involvement that are in treatment or recovery.”

The program connects those struggling with mentors, health professionals, and others in recovery--all at the touch of a button. That support system is essential to recovery, Hulsey says.

"Isolation is a trigger and is difficult for those in recovery seeking treatment," Hulsey explained. "To make these positive social interactions possible particularly during the pandemic we're in is incredibly important."

The Connections App has been scientifically proven through eight clinical trials to improve outcomes for individuals in recovery, according to IDOC.

“Individuals with a substance use disorder that are under justice supervision need additional support now more than ever,” said Gail Baker, Idaho Department of Correction. “Because of the economic downturn and the disruptions in treatment support, this population is at an increased risk for relapse and overdose. Our participation in the Connections App pilot-project will bring new research-backed services to these individuals.”

IDOC says the pilot-project will give more than one thousand criminal justice-involved individuals from across the nation access to the Connections App through next summer, and it is made possible with funding support from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE).