Corresponding Author

Joseph M. Calvert, PhD


Author Affiliations

Joseph M. Calvert, PhD

Center on Drug and Alcohol Research

University of Kentucky

Lexington, KY

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0912-4064


Introduction: Despite improved knowledge of the health care needs of formerly incarcerated women, there exists a gap regarding the relationship between health, health care access, and relapse among rural women returning to the community during the opioid epidemic.

Purpose: With an emphasis on health care access, this study examined health-related factors associated with opioid relapse among women reentering the community in rural Appalachia.

Methods: As part of a larger study, 400 rural women reporting a history of substance use were recruited from three Appalachian jails in Kentucky. Analyses focused on participants reporting a history of illicit opioid use prior to incarceration, who had also completed follow-up interviews at 6- and 12-months post-release from jail.

Results: Fifty-five percent of participants reported relapse to opioids during the 12-month follow-up period. Compared to those who did not use opioids during this time, women who relapsed reported poorer mental and physical health, as well as encountered more barriers to needed health services. They were also more likely to report a usual source of care. Multivariate regression analyses reveal that, even when controlling for other known correlates of opioid use and relapse to any non-opioid drug during the follow-up period, the number of barriers to health service utilization was a significant predictor of opioid relapse.

Implications: Stakeholders should address the complex reentry needs of women who use opioids in rural Appalachia. This includes examining innovative approaches to reduce extensive barriers to quality health care utilization, such as implementing telehealth for opioid use treatment.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Recommended Citation

Calvert JM, Dickson MF, Tillson M, Pike E, Staton M. Rural Re-entry and Opioid Use: Identifying Health-Related Predictors of Relapse Among Formerly Incarcerated Women in Appalachia. J Appalach Health 2021;3(3):22–35. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0303.03