The Opioid Epidemic In Veterans Who Were Homeless Or Unstably Housed

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Military and Veterans Studies | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction


Veterans who are homeless or unstably housed are at increased risk for opioid-related morbidity and mortality. However, there is a limited understanding of the scope of the opioid epidemic and gaps in care for these populations. We conducted a retrospective observational study to examine opioid use disorder (OUD) in a national sample of veterans who accessed specialized homeless programs in the Veterans Health Administration. Additionally, in a subgroup of veterans with a history of OUD, we examined several opioid-related measures: opioid dose, concomitant opioid-benzodiazepine prescribing, and receipt of medication for addiction treatment (MAT) and overdose prevention medication (naloxone). Rates of OUD history varied significantly across age, gender, and program type. Among the subgroup of homeless veterans with an OUD history, prescribing practices and rates of MAT and naloxone receipt varied significantly by age and specialized homeless program. Rates of receipt of MAT and naloxone were moderate and low, respectively, indicating opportunities for program-specific interventions.


Veterans, homelessness, opioids

DOI of Published Version



Health Aff (Millwood). 2019 Aug;38(8):1289-1297. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00281. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Health affairs (Project Hope)

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID