Background: Rural areas have high rates of opioid and stimulant involved polysubstance use which are known to contribute to overdose. Justice-involved women are likely to have multiple substance use disorders and are particularly vulnerable in rural areas where treatment is limited.Objectives: The research had three aims to (1) identify the patterns of polysubstance use of rural Appalachian justice-involved women, (2) examine how women's engagement in polysubstance use changed in the 12-months following initial release from jail, and (3) determine if women's changes in substance use patterns were associated with re-incarceration during the 12-months of post-release follow-up.Methods: A total of 339 women with recent substance use histories were randomly recruited from three rural jails. Latent transition analysis of women's substance use from baseline (in jail) to 6 and 12-months was examined, including the effect of re-incarceration on transitions (changes in substance use patterns).Results: Three latent classes were found: High Polysubstance/injection drug use (IDU) (36.3% baseline), Opioid/Benzo (Benzodiazepine) Involved Polysubstance Use (57.3% baseline), and Low Use (6.4% baseline). Polysubstance use classes were characterized by use of opioids and benzodiazepines; the High Polysubstance/IDU class was distinct in co-use and injection use of methamphetamine. Post-release, women transitioned to latent classes of reduced substance use and/or reduced injection drug use, particularly in the first six months. Women who were re-incarcerated during follow-up were likely to remain engaged in, or transition to, the High Polysubstance/IDU class (ORs: 3.14-46.56).Conclusion: Justice-involved women in Appalachia reported risky polysubstance use. The first six-months post-release were a critical period for changes in substance use.
Keywords: Opioids; justice-involved women; latent transition; methamphetamine.