Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute

New Podcast Episode Featuring Dr. Mandy Owens: Substance Use and The Reentry Process


This week, ADAI Assistant Professor Mandy Owens, PhD was interviewed on the More Life: The Reentry Podcast by host VanKe’via Garner, MS to talk about the intersection of substance use disorders and the criminal legal system.

Quote: “Ask people what they need and want. Go from there rather than this top-down approach of ‘I know what you need and want.’” Dr. Mandy Owens

For people with a substance use disorder (SUD), reentry after jail or prison can be a particularly dangerous time. While incarcerated, someone’s tolerance can drop significantly, which puts them at a greater risk for overdose when they get out. Research shows that people with SUDs “are at huge increased rates of dying from drug overdose in the first two weeks following release from incarceration,” according to Dr. Owens.

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are an important evidence-based tool that can help, and while many jails use them to help manage withdrawal during incarceration, there isn’t much support for people to start or stay on them after release. MOUD can help people reach stability in their lives and better maintain things like jobs, relationships, and other essential factors during reentry and beyond.

While lack of funding is often a significant barrier for jails and prisons to implement MOUD programs, other major factors are stigma and a lack of access to desired care. In order to successfully reach the people who need care most, Dr. Owens explains how important it is to “ask people what they need and want.”

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