Starke County Officials Learn Science Behind Addition at Statewide Opioid Summit

Combating Indiana’s opioid crisis was the goal of a summit this week in Indianapolis. Hundreds of criminal justice leaders from around the state took part in the event, including Starke County Court Services Director Shawn Mattraw. 

“It really focused on the science behind the addiction,” he explains, “and I think a lot of times in the criminal justice field, we see the behavior. We correct the behavior. We reinforce the behavior, positive incentives, negative sanctions, and we’re very good at that as a society as a whole and especially in the criminal justice field. What a lot of the training focused on was the scientific impact of the brain behind chemical addition, and how that’s not controlled well through criminal interventions, that you really need that treatment intervention.”

One of the discussion items that stood out to Mattraw was the effectiveness of “coerced treatment.” “That would be an individual that would have greater, I guess, leverage placed on them by the court. ‘As a condition of bond or release, you must participate in substance abuse treatment classes,'” he explains. “Those kind of folks, according to the statistics and data they shared with us in Indianapolis, tend to do much better than folks that aren’t involved in a coerced kind of treatment situation.” Mattraw feels that Starke County is already doing a good job of that.

He adds that 10 of the county’s criminal justice leaders attended Wednesday’s event. “They had some breakout sessions, and one of those was talking with your team,” Mattraw says. “That gave us an opportunity to all sit down, everybody in the criminal justice field, and come up with a plan of attack on what we’re doing well, where we see an area for improvement.”

Other sessions dealt with medication-assisted treatment, the legal implications of treating those in custody, and providing assistance to families affected by the opioid crisis. Handouts and Powerpoint presentations from Wednesday’s summit can be found on the state’s Next Level Recovery website.