Anglia Ruskin University

File(s) under embargo





until file(s) become available

Substance use disorders among adults during imprisonment in a medium security prison: Prevalence and risk indicators

journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-01, 15:15 authored by Gordon M Donnir, Winifred Asare‐Doku, Kofi E Boakye
Background: Research shows that the prevalence of substance use disorders among the prison population is high globally. Although prisons are highly controlled environments, access to drugs and other substances in prison remains a major problem. Yet, previous research is focussed mainly on the Western context, with the studies generally reporting on lifetime prevalence without reference to whether the disorders are manifest even within the controlled environment. Aims: To estimate the prevalence of substance use disorders evident while in prison in Ghana and associated risk indicators. For these purposes, substance use disorder was defined by any indication of dependency, or escalating use or socially problematic use during the 12 months of imprisonment prior to the interview. Methods: The study involved 500 adults (443 men and 57 women) in a medium-security prison in Ghana who had served at least 1 year of a prison sentence. Participants' alcohol use disorder was assessed separately from other substance use disorders which included cannabis, cocaine and other stimulants using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI); it is a structured interview and diagnostic tool for major psychiatric and substance use disorders in DSM-5 and ICD-10. Results: Two percent of the 500 participants had used alcohol to the level of alcohol use disorder, and 6% had other substance use disorders in 12 months prior to interview and while in prison. Cannabis (4%) and stimulants (3%) were the most frequently reported substance use disorders. Logistic regression model estimates indicate that younger age, prior offending and alcohol use dependence were significantly associated with such disorders in prison. Conclusion: In spite of efforts to prevent substance use in prison, nearly one in 10 of these prisoners were using alcohol or illicit drugs to a level indicative of substance use disorders. Our findings suggest that prioritising brief assessment may help identify those in most need of clinical help to limit their alcohol and illicit substance use problems.



  • Yes



Issue number


Page range


Publication title

Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health





File version

  • Accepted version


  • eng

Legacy posted date


Legacy creation date


Legacy Faculty/School/Department

Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Usage metrics

    ARU Outputs


    No categories selected