Drug Use in PrisonersEpidemiology, Implications, and Policy Responses

Drug Use in PrisonersEpidemiology, Implications, and Policy Responses

Stuart A, Kinner and Josiah D. Jody Rich

Print publication date: Feb 2018

ISBN: 9780199374847

Publisher: Oxford University Press


The majority of people who experience incarceration have a history of harmful alcohol, tobacco, and/or illicit drug use. Some discontinue use of these substances while in custody. Others—notably including some people who inject drugs—continue to use drugs in prison, typically in avoidably high-risk circumstances. Rapid relapse to risky substance use after release from prison is common and is associated with a range of health and social problems, and increased risk of both death and reincarceration. Effective measures to reduce the incarceration of people who use drugs, and to minimize drug-related harms both in prison and after release from custody, are urgently required. However, the evidence base to inform effective responses remains weak, and implementation of evidence-based responses remains patchy. Drawing on the expertise of 40 authors from 10 countries, this book reviews what is known about the epidemiology of substance use in people who experience incarceration. It presents what is known about the health, social, and criminal justice consequences of harmful substance use in this population and discusses key policy reforms that have the potential to achieve better health outcomes. In addition to reviewing what is known, the book identifies key knowledge gaps and makes recommendations for future research.