Drug use in the year after prison
Simes, Jessica T.
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Citation (published version)Bruce Western, Jessica T Simes. 2019. "Drug use in the year after prison." Social Science & Medicine, Volume 235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112357
With poor health and widespread drug problems in the U.S. prison population, post-prison drug use provides an important measure of both public health and social integration following incarceration. We study the correlates of drug use with data from the Boston Reentry Study (BRS), a survey of men and women interviewed four times over the year after prison release. The BRS data allow an analysis of legal and illegal drug use, and the correlation between them. We find that illegal drug use is associated with histories of drug problems and childhood trauma. Use of medications is associated with poor physical health and a history of mental illness. Legal and illegal drug use are not strongly correlated. Results suggest that in a Medicaid expansion state where health coverage is widely provided to people leaving prison, formerly-incarcerated men and women use medications, not illegal drugs, to address their health needs.