Holyoke Early Access to Recovery and Treatment (HEART): A case study of a court-based intervention to reduce opioid overdose Academic Article uri icon


  • The District Court in Holyoke, Massachusetts, is among the first courts nationwide to provide access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and other treatment. The program uses an innovative multisectoral approach to serve a primarily Latinx population living in communities of concentrated poverty with high opioid overdose rates. We document the origins, adapta- tions, and current status of program operations, including the use of on-site peer recovery specialists and robust data collection efforts. From August 16, 2021, to February 28, 2022, of the 1040 individuals who entered the court for an arraignment, 47.9% (n=498) were eligible for program participation. Of those 498 individuals, 54.2% (n=270) spoke with a recovery specialist. Many self-identified as Latinx (53.0%) and male (69.3%). Over one-fourth (27.0%) were connected to a long-term peer recovery specialist and 11.5% were directly connected to a MOUD provider. Semi- structured interviews with key implementers and participants revealed a shared appreciation for the life-saving efforts of the program. We conclude with practical and theoretical consider- ations required to offer linkage to MOUD in court-based contexts. Future efforts will assess participant outcomes to determine whether the program is an effective and feasible intervention that can be adopted by other court-based settings.

publication date

  • 2023