Finding shelter for sex trafficking victims with substance use disorder

As sex traffickers often use substances to help maintain control over trafficking victims, these individuals may develop substance use disorders (SUD). Victims of sex trafficking in need of safe housing may face challenges receiving assistance due to SUD restrictions. To address the issue of trafficking victims with SUD being turned away from traditional trafficking shelters, the Oklahoma Overdose Response Strategy (ORS) team organized a multidisciplinary meeting, bringing together public health and public safety stakeholders to discuss challenges, share perspectives and brainstorm solutions. One solution that emerged from this group meeting was to leverage OK’s Urgent Recovery Centers attached to crisis units. These facilities offer a safe haven for victims, provide assessments for SUD treatment, initiate medication-assisted treatment, consult with case managers and recovery support specialists and implement a seamless transition to inpatient or outpatient treatment. Most importantly, substance use is not a barrier for admission to these facilities. Following the meeting, the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDD) plans to meet with Urgent Recovery Center and Crisis Center Directors statewide, aligning law enforcement and public health in supporting trafficking victims with SUD. The OK ORS team continues to facilitate group meetings on a regular basis, follow up with participants to provide support and initiate introductions of potential partners and resources.