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Health Services Use by Chronic Drug Abusers

This project examines how chronic drug abusers previously incarcerated and returning to the community, utilize health services including drug abuse treatment, health care and mental health care services as well as their costs. The goal of this study is to provide information that can be used to improve health services delivery for chronic drug abusers. Over the project’s five years, a sample of incarcerated men (N=661) entered the baseline phase of the study. The participants were categorized into three groups: those receiving substance abuse treatment while incarcerated (N=220), those having received substance abuse treatment in the past but not in prison (N=222), and those reporting no history of substance abuse treatment (N=218). This study also included a subsample of women (N=60), divided into two groups, those currently in treatment (N=30) and those not in treatment (N=30). The participants were interviewed about a variety of factors related to health service utilization including previous illnesses, previous doctors’ visits, drug use, HIV risk behavior, violence, and criminal activity. Each of the participants will be interviewed approximately one year following release from prison to examine the impact of prison based treatment on community health care utilization.
This state funded project involves the development of a system to match individuals with high priority needs who are seeking substance abuse treatment with the relatively scarce services to meet those needs. The project involved the development of appropriate instruments for triaging substance abusing and dependent individuals, developing an acceptable method for treatment providers to report their capacity to provide services, and implementing a centralized means of bringing together individuals with high priority needs and the service capacity to meet those needs. This project provides excellent opportunities for advancing knowledge about substance use disorders. Over time, a body of information will be gathered which will allow, especially in conjunction with the treatment outcome study data, new insights and information concerning various aspects of substance abuse and dependence in Kentucky.



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