Non-fatal drug overdose after release from prison: A prospective data linkage study

Claire Keen, Jesse T. Young, Rohan Borschmann, Stuart A. Kinner

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Adults released from prison are at increased risk of poor health outcomes and preventable mortality, including from overdose. Non-fatal overdose (NFOD) is a strong predictor of future overdose and associated with considerable morbidity. This study aims to the determine the incidence, predictors and clinical characteristics of NFOD following release from prison. Methods: We used pre-release interview data collected for a randomised controlled trial in 2008–2010, and linked person-level, state-wide ambulance, emergency department, and hospital records, from a representative sample of 1307 adults incarcerated in Queensland, Australia. The incidence of NFOD following release from prison was calculated. A multivariate Andersen-Gill model was used to identify demographic, health, social, and criminal justice predictors of NFOD. Results: The crude incidence rate (IR) of NFOD was 47.6 (95%CI 41.1–55.0) per 1000 person-years and was highest in the first 14 days after release from prison (IR = 296 per 1000 person-years, 95%CI 206–426). In multivariate analyses, NFOD after release from prison was positively associated with a recent history of substance use disorder (SUD), dual diagnosis of mental illness and SUD, lifetime history of injecting drug use, lifetime history of NFOD, being dispensed benzodiazepines after release, a shorter index incarceration, and low perceived social support. The risk of NFOD was lower for people with high-risk alcohol use and while incarcerated. Conclusions: Adults released from prison are at high risk of non-fatal overdose, particularly in the first 14 days after release. Providing coordinated transitional care between prison and the community is likely critical to reduce the risk of overdose.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107707
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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