Risk factors for heroin use following release from jail or prison in adults in a Central Appalachian state between 2012-2017

Kirsten Elin Smith, Adrian Archuleta, Michele Staton, Erin Winston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Corrections-involved adults with a history of opioid use disorder are at elevated risk of opioid overdose following release from correctional settings. Increased opioid prescribing restrictions and monitoring during a time when heroin is becoming cheaper and ubiquitous means that adults who misused prescription opioids prior to incarceration may be reentering communities at greater risk for heroin exposure and use. Objectives: Determine risk factors of post-release heroin use among a sample of adults who participated in corrections-based drug treatment in Kentucky released between 2012 and 2017. Methods: Survey data obtained as part of an ongoing evaluation of corrections-based drug treatment were examined. Results: The final sample (N = 1,563) was majority male (80.9%). Nearly 11.0% reported past-year heroin use following their release. Depressive symptoms, polydrug use, and urban proximity were more common among participants reporting post-release heroin use. Heroin use 30 days prior to incarceration was associated with a 432.1% increase in odds of heroin use subsequent to incarceration. Post-release suicidal ideation increased odds of heroin use by 154.2%, whereas reporting satisfaction from social interactions decreased odds of use by nearly 60%. Post-release use of cocaine and diverted buprenorphine were associated with increased likelihood of heroin use during this time period, increasing odds by 469.1% and 265.9%, respectively. Residing in Central Appalachia subsequent to incarceration was associated with decreased likelihood of use. Conclusions: In this sample, post-release heroin use was associated with concerning features, such as polydrug use, lack of social satisfaction, and suicidal ideation. These features can serve as clear targets for clinical intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Heroin
  • community reentry
  • criminal justice
  • opioids
  • polydrug use
  • suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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