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Opioid Addiction and the Criminal Justice System

graph - Criminal Justice Involvement by Level of Opioid Use in the United States, 2015-2016Each year, the increasing number of people who have opioid addictions impacts communities across the United States. In 2016, substance overdoses (fueled by opioid addictions) surpassed death by car accidents and guns as the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old, and in 2017, 134 people died each day from opioid overdose. Opioid use has a significant correlation to criminal justice involvement, and the consequences of opioid addictions can impact everyone from the people seeking recovery to law enforcement first responders, correctional facility staff, and reentry professionals. Despite efforts to promote recovery and reentry, when people who have opioid addictions are released from prison or jail, they often face a significantly higher risk of overdose and overdose-related death than people who were never incarcerated. In North Carolina alone, the risk of overdose death from opioids was 40 times higher for people released from incarceration in state facilities than it was for the general population in the state.

The resources below are designed to assist correctional agencies, community-based treatment providers, probation and parole agencies, and other service providers in better responding to people who have opioid addictions who are in the criminal justice system.

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