Drug prevention outside and inside prison walls

The risk for developing substance dependence is increased in the prison milieu, due to stress factors, to the availability of drugs, and to an over-representation of persons dependent on drugs among the prison population. Recent overviews on projects for primary prevention against substance abuse in European countries are summarized and some evaluation results are discussed (especially prevention programs in the school milieu and in community settings). The main messages are that knowledge and attitudes can be improved, but, with unreliable impact on consumption behavior, short programs are not effective and most programs cannot adequately reach those who are most in need for them. These messages have to be considered when it comes to prevention in the prison milieu. The specific prevention goals for prison populations are identified, and selected strategies mentioned (including control measures, therapeutic measures, and harm reduction measures). Evaluation of such prevention strategies and programs is rare; a few examples are given. More pilot projects are recommended, focusing on relapse prevention for those already dependent, adequate networking with after-care and other agencies outside, and active participation by inmates in order to improve compliance with the program.

Source: Uchtenhagen, A. International Journal of Drug Policy 8(1):56-61, 1997
Availability: Reprints are available from the publisher

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