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Moore, Joan (2008) From Drugnet Europe. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 28, Winter 2008, p. 23.

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Drugs in prisons — healthcare is crucial

Article by Dagmar Hedrich in Drugnet Europe No. 64, October–December 2008
According to the [EMCDDA] Annual report 2008, survey data show that the EU prison population on a given day is over 600 000, with numbers of prisoners rising in most countries.1 It is estimated that, in almost all Member States, over 10 % of prisoners are drug-law offenders. And studies show that the proportion of inmates who have used heroin, cocaine or amphetamines in their lifetime can, in some prisons, be as high as 50–60 %.
The fact that drugs find their way into prisons, despite measures taken to reduce supply, is recognised by policymakers and prison experts alike. A challenge for prison systems in Europe is therefore to respond to the specific healthcare needs generated by drug problems, such as the burden of drug-related infectious diseases (e.g. hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS). According to the report, there are some indications that prison health policies are being shaped to meet these needs, with more countries than five years ago now reporting prevention activities; infectious disease screening and vaccination; and treatment for drug dependence.
But despite these improvements, much remains to be done. The report states that few prisons, for example, address the acute risk of death among newly released prisoners through overdose. Raising awareness of these risks and providing a seamless transition to external drug treatment, can play a key role in reducing drug-related deaths in this high-risk group.
1. Aebi MF and Delgrande N (2008) Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE 1): 2006 survey on prison populations. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.
National drug-related research in Europe
Cited from article by Margareta Nilson and Maria Moreira in Drugnet Europe No. 64, October–December 2008
Drug-related research is crucial to Europe’s understanding of its drug problems. Research enables Europe to learn lessons from the past, sharpens its awareness and monitoring of the present and helps countries prepare for the future. Yet building a picture of drug-related research in Europe remains challenging.
National drug-related research in Europe, published by the EMCDDA on 17 October, aims to respond to this challenge.1 The publication is based on reports compiled by 27 Reitox national focal points (NFPs) in 2007, which provide an outline of drug-related research at national level. … Research was seen to have increased over the last decade in a number of areas, including: prevalence, incidence and patterns of drug use; the evaluation of interventions; and economic aspects. ….
The report concludes that European drug-related research has seen considerable improvements since 1996. Research is now considered a priority in many EU Member States, being mentioned in the national drug policy documents of 20 of the 27 reporting countries. Also, most countries report relatively stable funding at national level, although concerns about funding availability and sustainability are still expressed.
But despite some improvements, a number of issues remain unresolved. Well-functioning coordination among researchers, research centres and research areas, for example, continues to be a fundamental structural problem in most countries, as was the case in 1996. And, although most national drug strategies and action plans now refer to the need for evidence based policies, the link between research results and policymaking is often difficult to make.
1. Available at www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/selected-issues.
Drugnet Europe is the quarterly newsletter of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Drugs in focus is a series of policy briefings published by the EMCDDA. Both publications are available at www.emcdda.europa.eu.
If you would like a hard copy of the current or future issues of either publication, please contact:
Alcohol and Drug Research Unit, Health Research Board, Knockmaun House, 42–47 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.
Tel: 01 2345 127; Email: adru@hrb.ie.


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Issue Title
Issue 28, Winter 2008
Page Range
p. 23
Health Research Board
Issue 28, Winter 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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