Research has found nearly all prisoners have experienced a traumatic event in their life and a high proportion suffer from PTSD. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and WestCare Foundation (Illinois) researchers surveyed 573 Illinois prisoners to understand the trauma they experienced and explore the relationship between trauma and substance misuse. Researchers found 89 percent of those surveyed had both experienced and witnessed more than one traumatic event during their lifetime. Almost one-fourth of the sample were identified as being symptomatic for PTSD (24 percent). In addition, researchers found a relationship found between greater PTSD symptoms and higher drug use. This article describes survey findings and provides implications for policy and practice in correctional facilities.
While more than half of individuals incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder, little is known about their misuse of prescription drugs. In this study, Authority researchers, in collaboration with WestCare Foundation Illinois, surveyed 573 state prisoners on prescription drug use to examine prevalence, accessibility, motivation for use, and effects. Forty-six percent of the sample reported using prescription drugs to get high and 20 percent used prescription drugs daily in the year before their incarceration.
Synthetic drug use is a growing public health concern. Synthetics are often cheaper and more readily available than cannabis and amphetamines, making them attractive alternatives to other illicit drugs. In addition, the chemical formulas for these drugs are constantly changing, making them difficult to regulate, and their detection is limited in commonly used drug screenings. Authority researchers partnered with WestCare Foundation to survey 573 state prisoners on synthetic drug use to examine prevalence, accessibility, motivation for use, and effects. Thirty-six percent of respondents reported any synthetic drug use in their lifetime prior to incarceration. Findings suggested a proportion of the criminal justice population engages in synthetic drug use and the findings were consistent with other research on synthetic drug use.