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Prevalence and risk factors for opioid related mortality among probation clients in an American city

NCJ Number
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment Volume: 137 Dated: June 2022
J. K. Boulger; K. Hinami; T. Lyons ; J. N. Konchak
Date Published
June 2022

Introduction: Substance use disorder researchers and treatment professionals have long recognized that risk of opioid-related mortality (ORM) is elevated after release from jail and prison. However, there are gaps in knowledge around ORM among people on probation and the relationship of ORM to drug testing and treatment referral while under supervision. Understanding this relationship is critical for probation officers who are often tasked with referring clients to treatment and monitoring compliance with treatment, without having a clinical background. In this cross-sectional study we estimate the prevalence and risk factors for ORM in a large, urban probation department.


 Positive urine tests for opioids were associated with 80 times greater risk of ORM than the general population. Although Black clients experienced ORM in greater numbers, white clients had relatively greater ORM risk. Conclusions: Elevated risk for ORM among the probation population justifies urgent and data-driven partnerships between public health and community corrections to train probation staff; to identify high-risk clients for evidence-based treatment and overdose prevention strategies; and to institute policies to support and sustain these activities.