Regional News

Recent Inmates 10x More Likely To Suffer Opioid Overdose

PORTLAND, OR -- A new study from Oregon State University, OHSU and the Department of Corrections reveals a higher rate of opioid overdose among recently freed convicts. According to the report, people recently released from prison are ten times more likely to overdose on opioids than the general population. 

OHSU’s Elizabeth Needham Waddell was one of the lead researchers and says part of the reason is their low tolerance at release, "Also, releasing from prison is very stressful; going back into community. Even if there is a longer period of abstinence while in prison, there can be a lot of pressure, internal pressure, external pressure, to return to use." The risk is especially high in the first two weeks of freedom, and OD rates among women are even higher.

Waddell says researchers looked at data from 2014 to ‘17, prior to the fentanyl crisis and before the Department of Corrections expanded access to medications for Opioid Use Disorder, "The results of this study really illustrate the need for that and the urgent need to increase treatment." She tells KBND News former invmats also need access to post-prison addiction services and overdose treatment, "Providing nasal Narcan kits at prison release, and also having Narcan readily available for free in community is life-saving." She adds, "We know that Narcan can usually reverse a heroin overdose with one kit - so, two squirts up the nose. But with fentanyl overdoses, they can require multiple doses to rescue."

Waddell says they are looking at new data and expect curretn numbers to be much higher, given the increased availability of fentanyl.


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