Yale University

Predictors of Drug Use in Prison among Incarcerated Black Men.

TitlePredictors of Drug Use in Prison among Incarcerated Black Men.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRowell, Tawandra L., Elwin Wu, Carl L. Hart, Rahwa Haile, and Nabila El-Bassel
JournalThe American journal of drug and alcohol abuse
Date Published2012 Jul 2
AbstractBackground: Black men currently comprise a substantial percentage of prisoners in the United States. Drug dependence is common among prison populations, and US prisons are high-risk environments for drug use. Prison drug use exacerbates health problems disproportionately prevalent among Black men and prisoners. Objectives: The goal of this research was to examine predictors of prison drug use among incarcerated Black men. Methods: This study examined drug use within the prison environment in a random sample of 134 Black men incarcerated in maximum-security correctional institution. The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) was used to measure illicit drug use history and the extent to which drug use occurred within the prison environment. Results: Seventy-five percent of the participants reported a history of illicit drug use. Overall, 20% (n 25) of the participants, or 25% of those with a history of drug use, reported using drugs during a time frame consistent with incarceration. Participants with lengthier histories of drug use (OR: 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2) and those who were incarcerated longer (OR: 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2) were more likely to use drugs in prison. Drug use in prison was associated with history of injection drug use and with probation/parole status when arrested. Conclusions: Prisoners are engaging in illicit drug use while incarcerated, suggesting that they could benefit from harm reduction and drug treatment services offered during incarceration. Scientific significance: Drug treatment programs that address long-standing addictions and coping mechanisms for lengthy prison stays, specifically, would be especially useful for this population.

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