Past research has shown that people released from jail are at high risk of opioid use relapse
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new study by researchers at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has found that offering people interim methadone treatment (methadone treatment without counseling) combined with patient navigation services to assist them in finding treatment when they are released from jail is a cost-effective way to reduce opioid use.
Providing interim methadone treatment while in and patient navigation services was one of three strategies evaluated as part of the study. The research team also studied interim methadone treatment without patient navigation services and enhanced treatment as usual, but both were less likely to be cost-effective compared to the combination of interim methadone treatment and patient navigation.
“This is one of the only studies to look at the economic implications of offering interim methadone treatment for individuals in pre-trial detention” said Gary Zarkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study and Distinguished Fellow in the Community Health Research Division at RTI. “The financial investment of opioid medication treatment and patient navigation sessions beginning in jail and continuing post-release is nominal compared to the benefits as measured by the reduction in opioid use.”
The research team implemented a micro-costing approach from the provider’s perspective to estimate the cost of the intervention in jail and over the 12 months post-release. Economic data included jail-based and community-based service utilization, self-reported health care utilization and justice system involvement and administrative arrest records. Outcomes were measured by the number of participants with a negative opioid urine test at their 12-month follow-up.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
To learn more about RTI’s opioid-related research, visit: www.rti.org/emerging-issue/understanding-preventing-and-treating-opioid-abuse.