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Long, Jean (2012) Drug tests in Irish prisons. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 40, Winter 2011, p. 30.

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Information on drug testing in prisons in 2010 was obtained from the Irish Prison Service. These data indicate that more than 22,500 voluntary tests were carried out in 2010 to monitor drug use and responses to treatment. The tests included those carried out on people who were classified as inmates, and excluded committals. It may be assumed therefore that the positive test results relate to drugs or alcohol consumed inside the prison.  

The results indicate that a large proportion of drug users in treatment are opiate dependent and are in receipt of prescribed methadone. The numbers of positive tests for benzodiazepines indicates that benzodiazepines are prescribed for a significant minority of prisoners attending drug treatment, or that these prisoners are obtaining benzodiazepines through unregulated sources. The common illicit drug metabolites detected indicate use of cannabis and opiates in prison (Table 1). Cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol were detected in a very small number of tests, indicating that these drugs are rarely used in the prison environment.
The profile of positive cannabis, opiate and benzodiazepine tests indicates use of these drugs among prisoners tested in Mountjoy Main prison. A sizeable number of inmates tested positive for benzodiazepines in the Dóchas Centre and Limerick prison. There is a sizeable amount of cannabis use at Loughan House and Mountjoy Main prison. There is a small but notable amount of benzodiazepine use at Castlerea prison, Cloverhill prison, Cork prison, Portlaoise prison, Loughan House, and the Midlands prison. There are small but notable amounts of opiate use at Portlaoise and the Midlands prisons.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Screening / Assessment
Issue Title
Issue 40, Winter 2011
Page Range
p. 30
Health Research Board
Issue 40, Winter 2011
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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