Free «Substance Abuse among Prisoners» Essay Sample

The relationship between substance abuse and offending in different medical justice and systems remains unknown. Information on issues of prevalence of substance abuse and dependence in the criminal populace among the prisoners will be vital as there is scope for administering the needed treatment while at detention and promoting contact with community service upon release. Therefore, prison departments might offer the only chance that a marginalized population, such as that of prisoners, has to participate in aspects of treatment services and other interventions (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009).

Research studies have anticipated the predominance of substance abuse among the prisoners population, which is estimated to be varying extensively. For instance, there is a six-fold difference in reported alcohol challenges, and a two- to threefold difference in the predominance of substance dependence. The difference in the research studies might be due to cross-sectional nature of some of the prison surveys used in this research and differing availability of substances in prisons chosen as study samples.



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Inconsistency in occurrence estimates include disparities in substance abuse behaviors over time and across nations in the community, and related changes in criminal justice processes as well as sentencing rules and policies for individuals with drug-related offences. The paper will examine the aim of the research study, methodology, results of the research discussion and limitations of the research method (Ebata & Moos, 2011). Therefore, the research method will criticize the sampling method that was used to carry out the research on substance abuse and dependence in prisoners. Sampling, the research design used in this study, have proved to be unreliable and biased.

Literature Review

Since there is no substantial recent literature review of the topic of substance use among prisoners, a systematic research was undertaken on the predominance of substance abuse and dependence in detainees on reception into prison. This might facilitate estimates that will be significant in the provision of treatment services for prisoners in detention and for the planning of health care services upon release of these prisoners into the community. The research studies incorporated reported consistent diagnostic criterion for substance abuse. Research results were subdivided by the type of disorder (e.g. drug or alcohol dependence), sex and type of detainee (remand/detainee or sentenced). The research will present an evaluation of large cross-sectional research studies by way of comparison on the prevalence between men and women in prison (Ebata & Moos, 2011).

Thesis Statement

The sampling method used to research substance abuse and dependence in prisoners on reception into detention is not reliable and is biased.

Aim of the Research

The research aims to critique the sampling method used for research on substance abuse and dependence in prisoners on reception into detention. Therefore, the paper will examine the limitations of the methodology used in this study (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009).

Research Question

  1. Is the research design method used to study the prevalence of substance abuse among prisoners reliable and unbiased?


The research study used sampling method as the primary research method. Surveys of predominance of alcohol or drug abuse and addiction in the general prison populations were undertaken and published between January 2009 and January 2011 (Jessor, 2009). Thirteen research studies with a total of 7563 prisoners met the research criteria. There was significant heterogeneity among the research studies undertaken by collaboration of the US National Criminal Justice Reference Abstract and European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction departments. The predominance of alcohol abuse and dependence in male prisoners was estimated to range from 18 to 30% while in the female prisoners, it ranged from 10 to 24%. The predominance estimates of drug abuse and dependence ranged from 10 to 48% in male prisoners and 30 to 60% in female prisoners.

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The final sample results comprised of 13 studies, which included a total of 7563 prisoners: 3270 women (43%) and 4293 men (57%). The average age of subjects was 30.4 years (founded on sample data from 10 research studies, 6052 prisoners). Of the 4177 prisoners with criminological data, 606 (14.5%) were either condemned or charged with a violent offence related to drug abuse. There were more sentenced detainees (3105; 41%) than those who were remanded (2548; 34%). Four research studies incorporated both remanded and sentenced detainees (total n=1910; 25%) (Mixed studies). Two samples (1220 detainees) were published before 2009. Detainees in the integrated studies were mainly from the United States (6635 convicted; 88%) with the rest being from the United Kingdom (548 detainees; 7%) and New Zealand (100 detainees and Ireland (280 prisoners) (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009).


Alcohol abuse/dependence

There were five identified sample research studies which measured alcohol abuse/dependence in female detainees. The predominance of alcohol abuse/dependence in females was estimated to be from 10.0 to 23.9% with heterogeneity between the research studies being gigantic (χ24=24.9, P<0.001; I2=84%) (Jessor, 2009).

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Alcohol abuse/dependence

A total of seven samples of alcohol abuse/dependence in men incorporated a total of 4141 detainees. Predominance of alcohol abuse/dependence in male detainees was estimated to be 17.7 to 30.0% with great heterogeneity among these estimates (χ26= 43.5, P<0.001; I2=86%).

The above results were calculated using Cochran Q and I2 statistic and Cochran x2 tests. Values of I2 greater than 75% is considered high. Cochran x2 tests were used to test heterogeneity of the samples from the research study.


From the above results, it is clear that there was a noteworthy difference in estimates of predominance of substance abuse and dependence among prisoners. There might be a number of factors for this heterogeneity, such as the disparity in study design employed. The sampling method used did not provide consistent results making the results to be biased. The results were analyzed using quantitative methods only making the results to be skewed. Some heterogeneity between research studies can be explained by factors in the study design, such as whether or not the sampling method was conducted by a psychiatrist (Jessor, 2009).

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Estimates of predominance were lower where samples were conducted by a psychiatrist from the two departments rather than a trained statistician. In addition, sensitivity analyses revealed that the predominance estimated from samples resulting to a mutual type of abuse/dependence tended to be different from those reporting dependence alone (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009). These were mainly marked for drug diagnoses in men and proposed the need for more specific definitions of substance abuse, and dependence to be used in the future in prison research so that more consistent estimates of predominance can be made.

Limitations of the Research Study

The sampling method used was inconsistent as the results collected were biased. The sampling method only selected few prisons departments therefore implying that the results collected were not true representative of the true picture of substance abuse in prisons. The research design used did not take into account other statistical methods used to calculate the results; however, it only factored in use of Cochran Q ,I2 statistic and Cochran x2 tests thus making the sampling method become biased. In addition, the research design has not used qualitative method of analyzing data given that the topic under investigation deals with psychology. Therefore, the results’ integrity and reliability is questionable. The method could have employed the use of qualitative methods to achieve reliability of the study. The research method also lacked comprehensive literature review from previous studies undertaken in the field (Cicchetti & Rogosch, 2009).

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The discussion of the research study reaffirms the thesis statement that the research methods used is biased and lacks reliability has it has not incorporated other research elements such as statistical methods and qualitative analysis of the data. The research design only employs quantitative method of analyzing the results of the research limiting the scope of the research. Therefore, the sampling method used was incoherent as the results collected were biased (Diamond & Josephson, 2007). The sampling method only selected few prisons departments therefore implying that the results collected were not true representatives of the true picture of substance abuse in the prisons. The research has no literature review available from the past researches. This, therefore, puts the research design employed into test by questioning its accuracy and reliability.


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