Presenting author: Christophe Huynh
Presenting author biography:
Christophe Huynh is a researcher at the University Institute on Addictions (Montreal, Canada) and an adjunct professor at the Université de Montréal.
Experiences of barriers and facilitators in opioid agonist treatment access and maintenance before and after release among incarcerated individuals in Quebec
Christophe Huynh, Dena Derkzen, Shanna Farrell MacDonald, Jean-Philippe Galipeau, Véronique Hamel-Auger, Louis-Philippe Bleau, Serge Brochu, Valérie Aubut
Maintenance of opioid agonist treatment (OAT) after prison release decreases overdose rates and helps link formerly incarcerated individuals to health and community services. The impact of transitioning from incarceration to community on the continuity of OAT services has been rarely documented. This ongoing qualitative study examines barriers and facilitators regarding access to OAT and other harm reduction services before and after release in the community among individuals with opioid use disorders (OUD) who were receiving OAT during incarceration. Participants were interviewed up to 6 months before release and up to 6 months after liberation. Thematic content analyses were performed on completed interviews. The first emerging theme was related to opioid use disorders and factors associated with maintaining substance use. The second theme covered lived experiences in accessing OAT, both in prison and in the community, and recommendations by the participants on how to better improve access to current harm reduction services for incarcerated individuals. The third theme addressed issues of maintaining OAT. Participants identified elements that help them continue OAT: when correctional agents were informed of the goals of OAT as a treatment to address health needs, and when harm reduction services were adapted and centered on the needs and experiences of the person with OUD. Transition to community-based OAT was facilitated when there was fluid communication between correctional services and community health providers, when work conditions were adapted to be able to receive OAT, and when services were in close geographic proximity. Results will help reflect and discuss how to ensure OAT continuation during transition during the post-release period, how to better sensitize and educate different health and correctional professionals on providing easily accessible harm reduction services, and how to adopt a holistic perspective regarding reinsertion by putting at the foreground the needs of the formerly incarcerated person.