A Vox article by German Lopez revealed;
“When an inmate addicted to opioids is released from prison, his chances of a fatal overdose are massively elevated: According to a 2007 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, former inmates’ risk of a fatal drug overdose is 129 times as high as it is for the general population during the two weeks after release. Other studies have backed this up, putting the increased risk of overdose death in the tens of times or above 100 times.”
The opiate epidemic is directly involved with our mass incarceration crisis. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported in 2010 that “of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nations prisons and jails, 1.5 million meet the DSM-IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction, and another 458,000, while not meeting the strict DSM-IV criteria, had histories of substance abuse.
According to most addiction experts, there are three medications, buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone, which significantly reduces death for opioid addiction patients, and is important in maintaining individuals in treatment.
The Vox article revealed that almost all state prisons are not providing any of the three crucial medications for combating opioid abuse. The state prisons do not want to pay for the medications, and do not fully understand the enormity of the opioid crisis.
By not treating inmates in prison, who are addicted to opioids, you increase the chance for drug overdoses in prison. Furthermore there are increased overdose deaths for released opioid addicted inmates.
Only Rhode Island reported providing, all three kinds of medications for their inmates. Although Rhode Island’s program is relatively new, a study reported that deaths among Rhode Island released inmates declined more than fifty percent.
Opioids, are part of the drug abuse crisis, affecting nationally our jails and prisons. Thousands of inmates nationwide, suffer from substance abuse, and do not receive treatment for their addictions. Often their offenses were directly or indirectly caused by their addictions.
We cannot ignore that our prisons and jails are part of the opioid epidemic.