Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

A conceptual model for understanding post-release opioid-related overdose risk.

Joudrey PJ, Khan MR, Wang EA, Scheidell JD, Edelman EJ, McInnes DK, Fox AD. A conceptual model for understanding post-release opioid-related overdose risk. Addiction science & clinical practice. 2019 Apr 15; 14(1):17.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


Post-release opioid-related overdose mortality is the leading cause of death among people released from jails or prisons (PRJP). Informed by the proximate determinants framework, this paper presents the Post-Release Opioid-Related Overdose Risk Model. It explores the underlying, intermediate, proximate and biological determinants which contribute to risk of post-release opioid-related overdose mortality. PRJP share the underlying exposure of incarceration and the increased prevalence of several moderators (chronic pain, HIV infection, trauma, race, and suicidality) of the risk of opioid-related overdose. Intermediate determinants following release from the criminal justice system include disruption of social networks, interruptions in medical care, poverty, and stigma which exacerbate underlying, and highly prevalent, substance use and mental health disorders. Subsequent proximate determinants include interruptions in substance use treatment, including access to medications for opioid use disorder, polypharmacy, polydrug use, insufficient naloxone access, and a return to solitary opioid use. This leads to the final biological determinant of reduced respiratory tolerance and finally opioid-related overdose mortality. Mitigating the risk of opioid-related overdose mortality among PRJP will require improved coordination across criminal justice, health, and community organizations to reduce barriers to social services, ensure access to health insurance, and reduce interruptions in care continuity and reduce stigma. Healthcare services and harm reduction strategies, such as safe injection sites, should be tailored to the needs of PRJP. Expanding access to opioid agonist therapy and naloxone around the post-release period could reduce overdose deaths. Programs are also needed to divert individuals with substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and into treatment and social services, preventing incarceration exposure.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.