Engagement in drug treatment following nonfatal overdose among people who inject drugs in Appalachia

Sean Travis Allen, Patrick T Wedlock, Rebecca Hamilton White, Kristin E. Schneider, Allison O'Rourke, Neha Ahmad, Brian W. Weir, Michael E. Kilkenny, Susan G. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Immediately after experiencing a non-fatal overdose, many people who inject drugs (PWID) engage in harm-minimizing behavior change, including engagement in drug treatment. To inform the implementation of tailored interventions designed to facilitate drug treatment engagement in rural communities, we sought to identify correlates of starting any form of drug treatment after their most recent overdose among PWID who reside in a rural county in West Virginia. Methods: Data are from a PWID population estimation study in Cabell County, West Virginia. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify independent sociodemographic and substance use-related correlates of any form of drug treatment engagement after an overdose among 179 PWID who had overdosed in the past 6 months. Results: One-third of our sample (33.0%) started any form of drug treatment in the 30 days following their most recent overdose. Factors associated with engaging in drug treatment included: recent buprenorphine or Suboxone injection (aOR: 2.39, 95% CI: 1.15, 4.96), someone calling 911 after their most recent overdose (aOR: 3.29, 95% CI: 1.63, 6.65), and older age (aOR per year of age: 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91, 0.99). Conclusions: Our results suggest that contact with emergency personnel after an overdose may represent an important opportunity to link PWID to drug treatment. The implementation of response teams trained in linking PWID to the services they require and helping persons navigate treatment systems maybe be a valuable intervention to reduce the harms of the opioid overdose crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103176
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Appalachia
  • Injection drug use
  • Medication assisted treatment
  • Overdose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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