Criminal Justice Contact and Relapse Among Patients Seeking Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder [2017]

The rapid rise in opioid use has recently contributed to several pressing concerns, including an unprecedented number of fatal overdoses, a marked increase in treatment admissions, a spike in emergency department visits, and a significant proportion of adults who test positive for opioids at the time of arrest. The majority of arrestees who test positive for opioids after being booked into jail also report prior engagement with a substance use treatment program, highlighting the need to address posttreatment substance use and involvement in the criminal justice system. The current study was conducted to untangle the posttreatment substance use–arrest relationship and better understand how one may influence the other. Analyses conducted with 396 adults, drawn from a nationwide sample of patients seeking treatment for opioid use disorder, demonstrated that posttreatment arrest increased the likelihood of substance use, but the evidence suggested that this relationship was not reciprocal. These results have significant implications for criminal justice practices with regard to using alternatives to arrest as methods to minimize posttreatment substance use.

Albert M. Kopak, Steven W. Lawson, Norman G. Hoffmann

Journal of Drug Issues, Vol 48, Issue 1, 2018