Opioid addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder associated with criminality, unemployment, infectious diseases, and legal problems. Such addictions are typically over-represented in correctional populations. Inmates with untreated opioid addiction often relapse shortly after release into the community, thereby increasing the risk of overdose, serious illnesses (HIV, hepatitis C) and psychosocial problems (e.g., crimes, recidivism, and reincarceration). There are three U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Opioid replacement therapies (ORTs) are associated with significant benefits, including reducing the incidences of HIV, criminality, and opioid-related mortality. However, most opioid-dependent Americans who are incarcerated are forced to discontinue ORT upon prison entry. This article offers a rationale for providing ORT to addicted prisoners while incarcerated and providing appointments with outpatient providers for continued treatment.
Pantea Farahmand, Vania Modesto-Lowe and Margaret M. Chaplin
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, December 2017