Reducing overdose after release from incarceration (ROAR): Study protocol for an intervention to reduce risk of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose among women after release from prison

Elizabeth Needham Waddell, Robin Baker, Daniel M. Hartung, Christi J. Hildebran, Thuan Nguyen, Deza'Rae M. Collins, Jessica E. Larsen, Erin Stack, Tina Bialas, Sarann Bielavitz, Jessica Gregg, P. Todd Korthuis, Lynn Kunkel, Joshua D. Lee, Gillian Leichtling, Dawnell L. Meyer, Ceilidh Nichols, Katharina Wiest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Drug overdose is the leading cause of death after release from prison, and this risk is significantly higher among women compared to men. Within the first 2 weeks after release, the risk of death from drug overdose is 12.7 times higher than the general population, with risk of death further elevated among females. Although female inmates have higher rates of opioid use disorder and post-release overdose fatality, justice-involved women are under-represented in studies of medications for opioid use disorder. The Reducing Overdose After Release from Incarceration (ROAR) pilot intervention and evaluation (recruitment June 2019 through December 2020) aims to reduce opioid overdose among women released to the community following incarceration in state prison. The evaluation further assesses induction, acceptance and effectiveness of extended release naltrexone in a female post-prison population. Methods/design: In the week prior to their release, female adults in custody with moderate to severe opioid use disorder start treatment with extended release naltrexone, an injectable opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids for up to 1 month. All ROAR participants receive training to use naloxone rescue kits and are provided nasal naloxone at release. Ongoing support from a certified recovery mentor to facilitate sustained engagement with treatment for substance use disorders begins in the month prior to release from prison and continues for 6 months in community. We evaluate the association between ROAR participation and the primary outcome of opioid overdose. Using administrative data provided by the Oregon Department of Corrections and the Oregon Health Authority, we compare the odds of overdose among ROAR participants versus a comparison group of females released from prison during the study period. Evaluation activities in community includes survey and qualitative interviews for 6 months post release, as well as a review of clinic records to assess retention on medication among the pilot cohort (N = 100). Discussion: ROAR is a collaboration between Oregon's public health, criminal justice, and medical communities. The ROAR intervention and evaluation provide critical information on improving interventions to prevent opioid overdose and improve retention on treatment in community in an overlooked, high-risk population: incarcerated women re-entering the community. Trial registration: Clinical TRN: NCT03902821.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113
JournalHealth and Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 10 2020


  • MAT
  • MOUD
  • Vivitrol
  • correctional health
  • drug overdose
  • justice-involved women
  • opioid-related disorders
  • peer navigators
  • recovery mentors
  • substance use disorder treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


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