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Substance use patterns in newly admitted male and female South Australian prisoners using the WHOASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test)

Chris Holmwood (South Australian Prison Health Service, Central Northern Adelaide Health Service, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia)
Michelle Marriott (Drug and Alcohol and Mental Health Initiatives, Department for Correctional Services, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia )
Rachel Humeniuk (WHO Collaborating Centre/Discipline of Pharmacology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 1 April 2008

Abstract

Objective. To report on the patterns of substance use in newly admitted male and female South Australian prisoners using the WHO‐ASSIST screening tool (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test) and observe the feasibility of using the ASSIST and associated Brief Intervention in this population. Data sources. Results of the first 518 prisoners screened using ASSIST in South Australian reception prisons. Results. In the first 10 months of the implementation of the WHO ASSIST, 518 clients were assessed in the 3 metropolitan intake prisons in Adelaide, Australia. This represents 31% of all male and 35% of all female prisoners admitted over this period. Injecting drug use was reported in the previous 3 months by 55% of men and 51% of women. The six most common substances used at high and moderate risk levels, in order of prevalence (from high to low) in males were tobacco, cannabis, amphetamines, opiates, alcohol, and sedatives. In women the order was tobacco, amphetamines, cannabis, opiates and sedatives equal, and alcohol. Fifty percent of men and 33% of women were using four or more substances. Overall rates of substance use related risk amongst men coming into prison are slightly greater than for women. Accessing prisoners for screening within the first few days is difficult with 55% already being released or at court or other external appointments.

Keywords

Citation

Holmwood, C., Marriott, M. and Humeniuk, R. (2008), "Substance use patterns in newly admitted male and female South Australian prisoners using the WHOASSIST (Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test)", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 198-207. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449200802473123

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited