PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A national study found that 42% of opioid users in rural communities across Oregon, and nine other states, were recently incarcerated. As a result, researchers are calling on more correctional facilities to offer addiction treatment to incarcerated people.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association late last week.
Researchers focused on 10 “geographically diverse” states that recorded high overdose rates in their rural counties from January 2020 to March 2020. Outside of Oregon, this includes Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
In order to be eligible for the study, participants had to have used opioids for non-medical reasons within the past 30 days. According to the data, 42.2% of the 2935 respondents had been held in a jail or prison for at least one day over the past six months.
Within that time frame, 23.4% of respondents said they’d been arrested, 43.9% said they’d been stopped by police, and about 28.3% said they were on probation or post-prison supervision.
Medical researchers also reported that recently-incarcerated participants were more likely to have tried and failed at accessing addiction treatment than their non-incarcerated counterparts. Additionally, data shows that recently-incarcerated respondents had higher overdose rates.
Researchers finished compiling survey results just eight months before Oregonians passed Measure 110 — the law that decriminalized small amounts of illicit substances.
According to Dan Hoover, the Oregon Health & Science University professor that led the study, the survey results present the need for effective addiction treatment in Oregon jails and prisons.
“You have a reachable time in jails, and most jails are not providing this kind of addiction care,” Hoover said to OHSU. “In a broader sense, our correctional institutions have a mandate to rehabilitate people who have entered the system — and treating addiction is a huge part of that.”