Drug use and opioid substitution treatment for prisoners
1 Institute of Addiction Research, University of Applied Sciences, Nibelungenplatz 1, D-60318 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2 Project Leader of Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) of the European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Harm Reduction Journal 2010, 7:17 doi:10.1186/1477-7517-7-17Published: 19 July 2010
Drug use is prevalent throughout prison populations, and, despite advances in drug treatment programmes for inmates, access to and the quality of these programmes remain substantially poorer than those available for non-incarcerated drug users. Because prisoners may be at greater risk for some of the harms associated with drug use, they deserve therapeutic modalities and attitudes that are at least equal to those available for drug users outside prison. This article discusses drug use by inmates and its associated harms. In addition, this article provides a survey of studies conducted in prisons of opioid substitution therapy (OST), a clinically effective and cost-effective drug treatment strategy. The findings from this overview indicate why treatment efforts for drug users in prison are often poorer than those available for drug users in the non-prison community and demonstrate how the implementation of OST programmes benefits not only prisoners but also prison staff and the community at large. Finally, the article outlines strategies that have been found effective for implementing OST in prisons and offers suggestions for applying these strategies more broadly.