Learn more about the smartphone app connecting those involved in justice with addiction treatment services during the pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT Name: Shawn Rogers Email: [email protected] Phone: (646) 417-4100 Smartphone app connects those involved in justice with addiction treatment services during the pandemic. in the face of two intersecting health crises, the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (GDCS) has partnered with the Addiction Policy Forum and the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) to provide digital therapeutic services to 111 people involved in the justice system with substance use disorders. Services offered included one-on-one virtual meetings with social workers and peer navigators, online support group meetings, a weekly wellness resource forum, including how to access COVID-19 vaccines. The initiative was part of a national project that provided services to 634 people involved in the justice system with a substance use disorder from 21 criminal justice agencies in 16 states. “As a department, we are committed to bringing about change in the lives of those under our supervision by harnessing innovative technology in conjunction with the latest research,” said Sherri Bloodworth, Director of the Recidivism Reduction Unit for the Georgian Department of Community Supervision. “Organizations like the Addiction Policy Forum and the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) join in our mission to connect people under surveillance and their communities with resources that will help them succeed during these unprecedented times. Bloodworth added. Participants from Georgia reported a reduction in relationship problems; depression/anxiety; cravings/desires; and risky situations. ● Participants’ relationship problems were reduced by 16.75%. ● Participants’ depression and anxiety were reduced by 27.88%. ● Participants’ cravings and cravings were reduced by 36.36%. ● Participants’ risk situations have been reduced by 7.38%. Additionally, Georgian participants in the project also reported improvements in key protective factors for recovery from substance use disorders. ● Participants’ sleep improved by 24.54%. ● Participants’ participation in work, school and volunteering improved by 3.66%. ● Participant participation in support groups increased by 3.09%. ● Participants’ confidence in their recovery and abstinence increased by 4.58%. According to one program participant, “There was no place to go due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, and after being on the app for a while, I learned that there is had a recovery meeting on Thursday night which was great. I met a lot of really cool, genuine, honest people and they helped me open up about my alcoholism. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for people struggling with addiction,” explained Jessica Hulsey, executive director of the Addiction Policy Forum. COVID-19 has presented other challenges and disruptions in care Ongoing stress, changes to programs and the availability of recovery assistance, and isolation during the pandemic have led to an increase in relapses and on doses nationwide. This innovative project with the Georgia Department of Community Supervision used telehealth and a smartphone app to provide addiction support services at a critical time. “It is more important than ever to support innovative solutions to address the opioid crisis that is devastating so many individuals and families across our country,” said Dr. Karen A. Scott, President of FORE. “We are pleased to partner with organizations that provide lifesaving services to the most vulnerable populations. To access a case study on the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (GDCS) project, please visit: https://bit.ly/3FMBudu If you have any questions regarding this press release, please contact Shawn Rogers at [email protected]. —- About the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (GDCS) The Department of Community Supervision is responsible for the community supervision of over 200,000 adults and designated Class A and Class B minors. The Mission of the Georgia Department Community Supervision is to protect and serve all Georgian citizens through effective and efficient supervision of offenders in our communities while providing opportunities for successful outcomes. DCS uses evidence-based practices to hold individuals accountable and reduce the state’s rate of recidivism. For more information, visit dcs.georgia.gov. About Addiction Policy Forum Addiction Policy Forum is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending addiction as a major health problem. Our national headquarters is located in North Bethesda, MD, with resources and services in every state. More information about our mission and our projects can be found on our website, https://www.addictionpolicy.org. About FORE The Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE) was founded in 2018 as a national private 501(c)(3) grantmaking foundation focused on addressing the nation’s opioid crisis. FORE is committed to funding a diversity of projects contributing to solutions to the crisis at the national, state and community levels. FORE’s mission is to support partners who deliver innovative, patient-centered, evidence-based solutions that impact people with opioid use disorders, their families, and their communities. Through convening, granting, and developing information resources, FORE seeks to effect long-term change. To date, FORE has awarded 46 grants totaling $13.4 million. ###

Jennifer C. Burleigh