Running Head: Substance abuse in prisons.

Table of contents

In most prisons in the world, alcohol dependence is the most prevalence substance abuse.  Most prisoners are said to depend on alcohol and drugs, to relieve stress and tension.  This has been linked to the fact that most inmates are imprisoned for drug – related offences.  These criminals are believed to introduce drugs and alcohol in prison.  The majority of the prison population has shown some evidence of substance abuse.  In Canada, research has shown that at least 7 – 10 inmates have engaged in activities of drug and alcohol abuse.

The use of drugs and alcohol in prisons is highly spreading.  Research has shown that women have more severe substance abuse problems than men.  They have also shown a tendency of being involved in hard drugs such as cocaine and heroine than men. These women also have a higher rate of injection drug use than men, at approximately 91%.

Heroin is the type of drug abused by most inmates in state prisons of Toronto and Montréal, while in Atlantic Canada alcohol and cocaine are the most abused. Alcohol and drugs are available in almost all prison facilities in the world.  Research studies have shown that drug trade is much more rampant and violent in the prison than on the street. Despite the efforts to eliminate drugs in prison inmates have always been discovered to test positive for drug tests.

The types of drugs available in prison include marijuana, alcohol, drugs, cocaine, tranquilizers, opiates, Hallucinogens, stimulants, sedatives and heroin.  Marijuana is the most common drugs while heroin is the least available drug in prison.

Programmes for drugs abuse treatment in this prison include, detoxication programmes, therapeutic programmes, drug courts, transitional treatment, maintenance and aftercare and pharmacotherapy methods. In California prison state intensive intervention services are reserved for offenders who are viewed as high risk.  The treatment available is designed to target behaviors that are predicative of criminal behavior.

In this prison, treatment techniques such as coping skills training have been used to reduce substance abuse.  Inmates are trained on how to cope in prison without drugs and also given social skills and employment skills. These skills assist in keeping them focused on other positive activities.  Structured relapse prevention techniques are established to prevent inmates from relapsing into substance abuse.  Stress management sessions are held in prisons to help prisoners deal with drug withdrawal symptoms. Willing prisoners are asked to set their goals of treatment and work step by step to achieve them.  This way they are motivated to stop drug abuse.  Community reinforcement techniques have also been started. The community offers its services to the prisoners through voluntary services to encourage motivate them in stopping substance abuse.  However, these treatment programs have not been very effective in the prison.  The programs are not enough to stop usage of substance abuse in prisons.


I think that more treatment programmes should be established in the prison.  Control and detection programmes should be established to detect any form of drug smuggling into the prison.  Visitors and new prisoners must be thoroughly checked before entering the prison compound.  Routine searches should also be done in the prison frequently to discourage any form of drug or alcohol storage in the prison. Comprehensive screening and assessment of inmates on entry should be performed to identify the treatment programme suitable for each patient. Drug detection dogs should be introduced in the prison to facilitate drug detection in the prison.  Visitors’ areas should be modified to the designs and layouts that are open and easily accessible.  The visiting areas should be completely separated from the inmates section by an impassable barrier. The way against drug and substance should be intensified to eliminate them from our society.


  1. Substance abuse in corrections. retrieved on 26/10/2007.
  2. Alcohol info. as retrieved on 20 Jul 2007.
  3. Heroin addiction treatment. as retrieved on 20 Jul 2007.

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