As more public policy shifts continue toward providing treatment for people with substance abuse problems rather than incarcerating them, more evidence surfaces to bolster such a trend. A new study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that drug overdoses were the leading cause of death for former inmates in Washington.
The study examined more than 76,000 former prisoners from Washington State between 2000 and 2009 and found that, not surprisingly, prescription opioids were primary cause of the overdose deaths. In addition, women leaving prison had higher mortality rates from opioids, cocaine, and antidepressants than men.
This serves as another reminder for many who have friends or family members struggling with substance abuse and addiction problems. If individuals cannot stop using on their own, and if families do not hold interventions, then society will eventually intervene – usually in the form of law enforcement.
Although laws are changing to accommodate for more treatment-oriented systems, there are still way too many substance abusers sent to prison unnecessarily. When this happens, this study confirms that it is rarely enough of a deterrent for addiction, as it continues after being released from prison and people then become even more susceptible to overdose.
Sometimes family members wonder when the best time to act is for performing an intervention. The answer is now.