Medications for opioid use disorder during incarceration and post-release outcomes

Lara Cates, Aaron R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Continuation or initiation of MOUDs during incarceration could improve post-release outcomes by preventing return to opioid use and reducing risk of overdose. People with OUD involved in the criminal legal system are a vulnerable population, yet little research has comprehensively examined post-release outcomes associated with receiving MOUDs in jail and prison settings. Methods: The authors conducted a review of published peer-reviewed literature on post-release outcomes associated with the use of MOUDs in correctional settings to determine implications for further research and policy. Results: Results showed compelling evidence supporting the use of MOUDs for currently incarcerated populations, with almost all studies showing that MOUDs provided during incarceration increased community-based treatment engagement post-release. There is also evidence that initiating or continuing MOUDs during incarceration is associated with decreased opioid use and overdoses post-release, without increasing criminal involvement. Conclusions: Findings indicate that forcing tapering and withdrawal during incarceration can have dire consequences upon release into the community. Initiating or continuing MOUDs during incarceration reduces the risk for opioid use and overdose upon release by maintaining opioid tolerance and increasing community treatment engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalHealth and Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Incarceration
  • Opioid
  • Overdose
  • Recidivism
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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