Screaming Behind a Door: The Experiences of Individuals Incarcerated Without Opioid Maintenance Treatment

Shoshana Aronowitz, University of Vermont


Background & Purpose: Opioid maintenance therapy (OMT) is an effective method of treating opioid addiction. Of incarcerated individuals in the U.S., 50-85% have a history of substance abuse, and >80% of inmates with opioid addiction history do not receive treatment. The purpose of this study was to explore individuals' experiences after being tapered from OMT upon incarceration. Methods: Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was employed using in-depth interviewing of 10 participants. Results: Analysis identified six themes that captured the essence of the participants' experiences. Implications & Conclusion: Losing OMT upon incarceration was described as an extremely stressful experience for many individuals, and may create issues for both inmates and facility staff. Further research is needed to discover ways in which to improve addiction treatment in prison.