Problems, needs and service provision related to stimulant use in European prisons

Tom Decorte (Institute for Social Drug Research (ISD), Ghent University, Belgium)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Publication date: 1 January 2007


Objective. The objective of this study was to examine practices and policies in place for the provision of targeted prevention and treatment of cocaine and Amphetamine Type Stimulant (ATS) users in prison in nine European countries. Methodology. Across nine European member states (Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia, Sweden, Malta, Ireland and Portugal), interviews were conducted with ministerial representatives and professionals (i.e. service providers and security officials) working in prisons and a total of 16 focus groups with a total of 125 prisoners. Results. The use of stimulants in prison is associated with aggression and violence, financial problems, and psychological and physical problems in prisoners (depression, anxiety and psychological craving). Both security and healthcare staff in prison often feel ill‐equipped to deal with stimulant‐related problems, leading to a lack of equivalence of care for stimulant users in prison, therefore the variety and quality of drug services outside is not reflected sufficiently inside prison. There is a need for more specific product information and harm reduction material on stimulants, for clear guidelines for the management of acute stimulant intoxication and stimulant withdrawal, for structural adjustments to improve potential diagnosis of personality and psychiatric disorders, for more non‐pharmacological treatment strategies and more opportunities for prisoners to engage in purposeful activities.



Decorte, T. (2007), "Problems, needs and service provision related to stimulant use in European prisons", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 29-42.

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