Gaeta and Wakeman: Addiction aid needed in prisons
BHCHP’s CMO, Dr. Jessie Gaeta, and Dr. Sarah Wakeman, medical director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Substance Use Disorder Initiative, discuss the need for substance use disorder services for the prison population.
As the overdose crisis claims more and more lives, the phrase “we cannot arrest our way out of this” has been frequently uttered. And yet one in 37 Americans is currently under correctional control and 85 percent of those in prisons or jails are substance-involved, meaning they either have a history of substance use disorder or have been convicted for a crime related to drug use.
Most of those in jail or prison will eventually be released, and the two weeks following release have been shown to be associated with a marked increase in mortality, particularly from drug overdose. In Massachusetts, the opioid-related overdose death rate is 120 times higher for people released from prison than for the rest of the adult population.