The purpose of this paper is to characterize the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and substance use among people incarcerated in a county jail.
A questionnaire was administered to 199 individuals incarcerated in a Southwest county jail as part of a social-epidemiological exploration of converging comorbidities in incarcerated populations. Among 96 participants with complete ACEs data, the authors determined associations between individual ACEs items and a summative score with methamphetamine (meth), heroin, other opiates and cocaine use and binge drinking in the 30 days prior to incarceration using logistic regression.
People who self-reported use of methamphetamine, heroin, other opiates or cocaine in the 30 days prior to incarceration had higher average ACEs scores. Methamphetamine use was significantly associated with living with anyone who served time in a correctional facility and with someone trying to make them touch sexually. Opiate use was significantly associated with living with anyone who was depressed, mentally ill or suicidal; living with anyone who used illegal street drugs or misused prescription medications; and if an adult touched them sexually. Binge drinking was significantly associated with having lived with someone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic.
The findings point to a need for research to understand differences between methamphetamine use and opiate use in relation to particular adverse experiences during childhood and a need for tailored intervention for people incarcerated in jail.
Significant associations between methamphetamine use and opiate use and specific ACEs suggest important entry points for improving jail and community programming.
The health disparities in jail populations study was funded by the NARBHA Institute, Flagstaff Arizona, with additional support from the Northern Arizona University Center for Health Equity Research and the Northern Arizona University Southwest Health Equity Research Collaborative (NIH/NIMHD U54MD012388).The authors would like to acknowledge the members of the County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and James Brett, who provided key access and advice to the field staff during data collection. In addition, important contributions to the data collection were made by Julie A Baldwin (Northern Arizona University [NAU]), Viacheslav Y. Fofanov (NAU), Carolyn Camplain (NAU), Bailey Kohlbeck (NAU), Nicola Williams (NAU), Kellie Rexroat (NAU), Luke Chiverton (NAU), Erin Comprosky (NAU), Omar Gomez (NAU) and Galen McCloskey (NAU).
Eaves, E.R., Camplain, R.L., Lininger, M.R. and Trotter II, R.T. (2021), "Adverse childhood experiences in relation to drug and alcohol use in 30 days prior to incarceration in a county jail", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 142-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-06-2020-0038
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