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J Addict Dis. 2009;28(2):124-9. doi: 10.1080/10550880902772423.

Preventing death among the recently incarcerated: an argument for naloxone prescription before release.

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Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


Death from opiate overdose is a tremendous source of mortality, with a heightened risk in the weeks following incarceration. The goal of this study is to assess overdose experience and response among long-term opiate users involved in the criminal justice system. One hundred thirty-seven subjects from a project linking opiate-dependent individuals being released from prison with methadone maintenance programs were asked 73 questions regarding overdose. Most had experienced and witnessed multiple overdoses; 911 was often not called. The majority of personal overdoses occurred within 1 month of having been institutionalized. Nearly all participants expressed an interest in being trained in overdose prevention with Naloxone. The risk of death from overdose is greatly increased in the weeks following release from prison. A pre-release program of overdose prevention education, including Naloxone prescription, for inmates with a history of opiate addiction would likely prevent many overdose deaths.

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