Fatal Opioid ODs Drop for People Treated While Jailed

Fatal Opioid ODs Drop for People Treated While Jailed

An opioid addiction treatment program for Rhode Island prison inmates appears to have significantly reduced overdose deaths among those who are released, researchers say.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

The program screens all inmates for opioid addiction and provides medications to treat the addiction. It was launched in 2016 and is the only program of its kind in the United States, according to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.

To see whether the program was working, researchers from Brown University compared overdose deaths among former inmates during the six months before the program started and the same period a year later.

The researchers found a 61 percent drop in overdose deaths among former inmates. There was also a 12 percent decrease in overdose deaths statewide.

The findings suggest that this type of program, combined with access to treatment after inmates are released, could help reduce the opioid epidemic across the United States, the study authors said.

"This program reaches an extremely vulnerable population at an extremely vulnerable time with the best treatment available for opioid use disorder," study co-author Dr. Josiah Rich said in a university news release.

Rich is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Brown and director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital in Providence.

Opioid addicts "may have stopped using while incarcerated, but nothing has been done to change the pathways in the brain responsible for addiction," Rich said. "So when they get out, people are likely to relapse, and with their tolerance gone, they're at high risk for overdose."

Simple detox -- going "cold turkey" -- fails 90 percent of the time, Rich added. However, decades of research have shown that treatment with medication is the best path to recovery for people addicted to opioids.

According to the study's lead author, Dr. Traci Green, "People have been searching for some way to stop overdose deaths. Here we have a program that's shown to work, and it's absolutely replicable in other places."

Green is an adjunct associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Brown and a senior researcher at Rhode Island Hospital.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

"Not only do we see that a statewide program treating people using medications for addiction treatment is possible and reduces deaths, but also this approach intervenes on the opioid epidemic at its most lethal and socially disrupting point -- incarceration -- to give hope and heal communities," Green said.

The study findings were published online Feb. 14 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on opioid addiction.


Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit
Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

Victoria Toline would hunch over the kitchen table, steady her hands and draw a ...

Read more
A Spike In Liver Disease Deaths Among Young Adults Fueled By Alcohol
A Spike In Liver Disease Deaths Among Young Adults Fueled By Alcohol

Young people who drink heavily may be at risk of fatal liver disease. Dr. Elliot...

Read more
An Alternative To Foster Care For Babies Born To Opioid-Addicted Moms
An Alternative To Foster Care For Babies Born To Opioid-Addicted Moms

For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmer...

Read more
Could Botox Cousin Combat the Opioid Epidemic?
Could Botox Cousin Combat the Opioid Epidemic?

A modified type of botulinum toxin -- botox -- gave mice long-term pain relief a...

Read more
Where Are Opioid Painkillers Prescribed the Most?
Where Are Opioid Painkillers Prescribed the Most?

A close look at U.S. congressional districts has yielded new information about t...

Read more
More U.S. Teens Shunning Drugs, Alcohol
More U.S. Teens Shunning Drugs, Alcohol

Over the last four decades, more American teenagers have decided to say no to dr...

Read more