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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 109-114

Factors associated with psychoactive substance use among a sample of prison inmates in Ilesa, Nigeria

General Hospital, Michika, Adamawa State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
P A Amdzaranda
General Hospital, Michika, Adamawa State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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OBJECTIVES: To determine the rates of psychoactive substance use before and during imprisonment among a sample of prisoners and the factors that are associated with current drug use among them. METHODS: All the inmates of Ilesa medium security prison, who gave informed consent to participate, were interviewed with a questionnaire detailing socio-demographic, drug-use and imprisonment-related information. RESULTS: Majority of the prisoners were young adults. The current (one month) use rates of the substances were: tobacco, 13.7%; hypnosedatives, 11.4%; alcohol, 10.7%; stimulants, 9.6%; cannabis, 7.0%; pethidine/morphine, 2.3%; inhalants, 2.3%; cocaine, 2.3%; heroin, 1.3% and LSD, 0.0%. These rates were just slightly lower than rates of use before imprisonment for hypnosedatives, stimulants, cannabis, pethidine/ morphine and inhalants. Majority of current users of cannabis (71.4%) and tobacco (68.3%) were engaged in 'heavy use' of these substances. Analyses of factors that were significantly associated with the five commonly used substances (tobacco, hypnosedatives, alcohol, stimulants and cannabis) indicated that current tobacco use was associated with unemployment before imprisonment, being a sentenced prisoner, previous mental disorder and previous arrest(s) for drug offense. Current hypnosedatives use was associated with being a sentenced prisoner, previous arrest(s) for drug offense and being held for a major offense. Current stimulants use was associated with unemployment, previous arrest(s) for drug offense, previous imprisonment and longer duration of imprisonment. Current cannabis use was associated with higher age groups and being a sentenced prisoner. Cannabis use was also associated with previous arrest(s) for drug offense, previous imprisonment and being held for a major offense, a pattern which suggests that cannabis use may be associated with criminality than the other substances. The observation on pethidire/morphine does not conform to previous observation of non-use by prisoners in Nigeria. CONCLUSION: The rates of drug use are lower than figures reported from samples in western countries but similar to previous reports from Nigeria. The present observation on pethidine suggests that injecting drugs may be an emerging behaviour among prisoners in Nigeria. The prevalence rates of the substances and the similarity in the prisoners' access to drug before and during imprisonment call for drug prevention and treatment programmes within the criminal justice system in Nigeria.

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