Three million Americans currently suffer from Opioid Use Disorder, or an addiction to opioids. Today, adults between the ages of 25 and 44 are more than twice as likely to die from opioid overdose than from COVID-19. When we zoom in on the prison population, the numbers are even more jarring: 85 percent of people in prison or jail have some kind of substance use disorder, compared with 9 percent of the general population. Yet people who are incarcerated are less likely to get access to the care they need to treat their addiction.
Most prisons and jails don’t let people take prescription medications like methadone or buprenorphine to treat their disorder while serving time. This kind of treatment has been shown to reduce deaths from opioid overdose up to 50 percent by preventing withdrawal symptoms during recovery.
In this episode of At Liberty, we take a look at the devastating impact of denying these treatments in our prisons and jails. We’re joined by Christine Finnegan, Louis Lamoureux, and Beth Schwartzapfel.