Studies of drug users in prison

Overview of the data  |  Tables  |  Graphics  |  Supplementary downloadable tables  |  Methods and definitions

Overview of the data

The index below lists the tables in the bulletin, the supplementary down-loadable tables and the associated graphics in the section dealing with drug users in prisons, along with a brief, summary overview. See also the main overall index for all sections.

This section reports on various studies of prison inmates in different EU Member States, candidate countries and Norway over the past decade. Results shown in the studies cover a range of drugs including opiates, cocaine, cannabis and poly-drug use, and prevalence is estimated for a range of inmate sub-populations: injectors, males, females, youth. A further, more complete table is available in the supplementary tables to the bulletin, indexed below.

Table DUP-5 (Excel format). Prevalence (percentage) of drug use among prisoners in EU Member States, candidate countries and Norway - full listing of studies

The first table of the section, Table DUP-0, gives the source bibliographic references for the studies reported in tables DUP-1 to DUP-5.

Summary points

Data available on drug use among the prison population in the last 5 years (1999–2004) show that, compared to the general population, drug users are overrepresented in prison. See Table DUP-1 for the proportions of ever drug users in prisons.

Cannabis remains the most frequently reported illicit drug, with lifetime prevalence rates ranging between 4 % and 86 %, while lifetime use of cocaine was reported for 3–57 % of the detainees, amphetamines for 2–59 % and heroin for 4–60 % (1999 to 2004). See Figure DUP-1 for prevalence of use of different drugs.

Regular drug use or dependence prior to imprisonment is reported for 8 % to 73 % of inmates, while 7–38 % of the prison population have ever injected drugs (1999 to 2004) – see Table DUP-2.

Studies available show that 8–51 % of inmates report having used drugs within prison, 10–42 % report regular drug use and that 1–15 % have injected drugs while in prison (1999 to 2004), see also Table DUP-3 and Table DUP-4.

Repeated surveys carried out in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Sweden show an increase in the various prevalences of drug use among detainees (see Table DUP-5 (Excel format) for dates of surveys and types of prevalence data reported.), whereas France reports a significant decrease in the proportion of injectors among the prison population.