O'Neill Institute  |  February 7, 2023

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Note: This document was revised on May 2, 2023, to correct an error on page 5.

Upon reentry, individuals leaving incarceration are at heightened risk for experiencing an overdose. However, recent studies have shown that access to evidence-based treatment, including methadone and buprenorphine, in jails and prisons can help decrease the risk for overdose death by up to 80% following release from incarceration.

In July 2021, the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative published “National Snapshot: Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in U.S. Jails and Prisons.” The report provided an overview of litigation, state legislation, and policies that had been adopted to increase access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in U.S. jails and prisons. This new document supplements the “snapshot” and highlights progress that has been made in 22 states since the last publication.

The new snapshot offers a summary of federal efforts on the issue and documents the growing momentum to expand access to MOUD in corrections nationwide. Report authors Joseph Longley, Shelly Weizman, Somer Brown, and Regina LaBelle document growth in MOUD in rural, suburban, and urban areas, driven by a variety of factors — including litigation, legislation, executive action, and guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In addition, the authors include recent studies demonstrating that access to MOUD in correctional facilities reduces the risk of overdose death.

While this report outlines specific progress that has been made in states and counties, it also highlights the urgent need for continued policy reforms to stem the tide of overdose deaths.

This snapshot is accurate as of December 2022.

Read the update to the national snapshot here.

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