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Long, Jean (2008) Drug tests in Irish prisons. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 26, Summer 2008 , pp. 22-23.

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Information on drug testing in prisons from 2005 to 2007 was obtained from the Irish Prison Service byThe Irish Timesunder the Freedom of Information Act.1,2,3 According to this data, more than 20,000 voluntary tests were carried out each year to monitor drug use and responses to treatment. These tests included those carried out on committals (new entries) as well as on existing inmates. It may be assumed therefore that some of the positive test results relate to drugs or alcohol consumed outside the prison. Between one-third and one-half of those screened tested positive for at least one drug. The common metabolites detected indicated use of cannabis, benzodiazepines and opiates (Table 1). It is not clear whether the numbers of positive cases excluded prisoners who were prescribed benzodiazepines; if they do not, these figures overstate the extent of unregulated use of benzodiazepine in prisons. Cocaine and alcohol were detected in a small number of tests. The profile of positive drug tests was similar among prisoners tested in Mountjoy, Wheatfield, Limerick, Midland and Cloverhill prisons. The proportion of positive tests was low in St Patrick’s Institution and in Castlerea and Cork prisons. (Jean Long)

 
Table 1   Number of tests, by prison, and number (%) of positive tests, by prison and by drug type, 2007
Prison
No. of tests
Cannabis
Benzodiazepines
Opiates
Cocaine
Alcohol
Amphetamines
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mountjoy Main
3,680
1,860 (51%)
1, 871 (51%)
2,112 (57%)
78 (2%)
23 (0.6%)
29 (0.8%)
Dochas Centre
2,464
844(34%)
1,294 (50%)
751 (46%)
85(11%)
55 (3%)
14 (1%)
Wheatfield
4,369
2,122 (49%)
1,572 (36%)
1,842 (44%)
51 (1%)
31 (0.7%)
35 (0.8%)
Cloverhill
3,301
833 (25%)
1,206 (37%)
1,141 (35%)
267 (8%)
79 (2%)
31 (0.9%)
St Patrick’s Inst.
3,489
245 (7%)
179 (5%)
86 (3%)
12 (0.3%)
14 (0.4%)
20 (0.6%)
Castlerea
92
14 (15%)
17 (19%)
9 (10%)
0 (0%)
0 (0%)
2 (2%)
Loughan House
407
128 (32%)
55 (14%)
16 (4%)
7 (2%)
9 (2%)
8 (2%)
Shelton Abbey
382
97 (25%)
45 (12%)
22 (6%)
19 (5%)
12 (3%)
10 (3%)
Limerick
518
189 (37%)
223 (43%)
228 (44%)
3 (0.6%)
18 (3%)
5 (1%)
Cork
97
3 (3%)
8 (8%)
1 (1%)
0 (0%)
1 (1%)
0 (0%)
Midland
1,694
263 (16%)
422 (25%)
871 (51%)
18 (1%)
9 (0.5%)
9 (0.5%)
Portlaoise
20
3 (15%)
4 (20%)
4 (20%)
0 (0%)
1 (5%)
0 (0%)
Source: Data received from the Irish Prison Service
 
1. Conor Lally (18 February 2008) 40,000 positive drug tests in prisons. Irish Times: 1.
2. Conor Lally (18 February 2008) Prison drugs figures show extent of challenge ahead. Irish Times: 4.
3. Data confirmed in personal communication with W Burke of the Irish Prison Service (13 June 2008).



 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 26, Summer 2008
Date:2008
Page Range:pp. 22-23
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 26, Summer 2008
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health care programme or facility > Prison-based health service
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
T Demographic characteristics > Prison Inmate (prisoner)

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