Veterans, residents of rural and tribal areas, recently-released inmates, people completing drug treatment/detox programs, and some young adults are at an especially high risk of opioid overdose. Law enforcement and correctional officers are uniquely positioned to engage in initiatives targeting these high-risk groups, thereby helping prevent fatalities by engaging in outreach initiatives. Individuals re-entering society after a period of incarceration are especially vulnerable. In the first two weeks, formerly incarcerated individuals are approximately 30 times more likely to die of a drug overdose than members of the general public. A number of programs engage law enforcement and correctional staff in educating this population about overdose risk, how to avoid and respond to overdose, and any provisions covering criminal liability of those who seek help.
Example: In Rhode Island’s “Staying Alive on the Outside” program, state prisoners are shown a video about overdose risks as part of the pre-release process. Another example is a program at the Allegheny County, PA, jail, where public health and corrections officials present overdose prevention trainings to inmates prior to discharge. At the jail in Kent, Washington pharmacists train inmates and naloxone is placed in their possession for pick up upon release.
Example: In Indiana, local law enforcement worked in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration to revise the drug education curriculum delivered in schools to include key information about overdoses. This includes content covering signs and symptoms of overdose, the substances that are likely to cause overdose, and the considerations involved in calling 9-1-1.