Bill to Permit Successful Drug Court Completion with Medication-Assisted Treatment Gets Final Legislative Approval

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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway M.D., Raj Mukherji, Shavonda Sumter and Angelica Jimenez to permit successful completion of drug court programs notwithstanding use of medication-assisted treatment was approved 76-0 Thursday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-3723) concerns the use of medication-assisted treatment by individuals involved in the state’s special probation drug court program as an alternative to incarceration.
The bill would expressly permit medication-assisted treatment as a form of treatment in drug court treatment programs.
The bill defines “medication-assisted treatment” as the use of any medications approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration to treat substance use disorders, including extended-release naltrexone, methadone and buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
“Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based practice widely recognized by public health and addiction professionals as one of the best options in helping manage opioid addiction,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This legislation is about making sure that effective rehabilitation methods are available to men and women suffering from addiction.”
“We can never do enough to help New Jerseyans overcome the illness of addiction,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Medication-assisted treatment can advance the dual mission of promoting recovery and preventing recidivism.”
“This bill represents a much-needed shift in our approach to treatment,” said Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Whenever an individual makes the decision to seek the help they need, we ought to ensure that all the appropriate resources are available.”
“Those who want to turn their lives around ought to have the opportunity to do so,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “By treating addiction as the disease it is, this legislation will help give more New Jersey residents hope of successful recovery.”
The bill clarifies that any urine test for drug or alcohol use conducted in the course of the drug court program that shows a positive result for an individual using medication-assisted treatment would not constitute a program violation unless the positive test result is for substances unrelated to the individual’s medication-assisted treatment.
Further, an individual’s temporary or continued management of drug or alcohol dependency by means of medication-assisted treatment, whenever supported by a report from the treatment provider of existing satisfactory progress and reasonably predictable long-term success with or without further medication-assisted treatment, could not be used as the basis to declare a violation of the drug court program or unsuccessful completion of the required program treatment.
The bill now goes to the governor.