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NIDA. (2013, November 22). New study shows that drug overdose is the leading cause of death in former prisoners. Retrieved from

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Science Spotlight

November 22, 2013

Treatment is the Key

A new study identifies drug overdose as the leading cause of death in former prisoners, with prescription opioids most commonly involved in these deaths.  In addition, women leaving prison had higher mortality rates from opioids, cocaine, and antidepressants than men.

These findings highlight the vulnerability of former prisoners as they transition from prison to the community, suggesting the need for more effective overdose education, monitoring for medical problems, and drug treatment in prison- and community-based mental and health care systems.

For a copy of the study abstract (published online November 5), go to:  For facts on criminal justice and drug abuse, go to

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at or 301-443-6245.