Home > Drug and alcohol misuse among adult offenders. Findings from the drugs and alcohol survey 2011.

Martyn, Michelle (2012) Drug and alcohol misuse among adult offenders. Findings from the drugs and alcohol survey 2011. Meath: Probation Service.

PDF (Drug and alcohol misuse among adult offenders ) - Published Version

This report presents the findings from the Drugs and Alcohol Survey 2011 conducted by the Probation Service. The report and its findings are based on the first large-scale, nationwide survey conducted by the Service in Ireland on drug and alcohol misuse among the adult offender population on probation supervision. The overall report comprises four separate sub-reports which are detailed in section 3.

The survey involved a representative sample of 2,963 adult offenders on Probation Officers’ caseloads on the 1st April 2011. A questionnaire was developed specifically for the purpose of the study. The questionnaires were completed by the supervising Probation Officers based on their knowledge of the offenders on their caseloads.

The main objectives of the study were as follows:
• Ascertain the number of adult offenders on probation supervision who misused drugs and/or alcohol
• Examine the nature and frequency of drug and alcohol misuse
• Establish if there is a correlation between drug and/or alcohol misuse and offending and offending behaviour
• Identify the level and nature of engagement with drug and alcohol treatment services

The report provides the key findings of the survey. The sub-reports in chapters 3-6 present specific findings in detail. The report concludes with a discussion of issues arising in the study which merit particular attention and consideration in the management of drug and alcohol misuse policy and practice in the Probation Service.

Key Findings
• 89% of the adult offender population on probation supervision had misused drugs or alcohol either ‘currently’ (at the time of the survey) or in the ‘past’.
• Of the 89% of those who misused either alcohol/drugs, 27% misused drugs only, 20% misused alcohol only and 42% misused both drugs and alcohol.
• While females comprised only 12% of the adult offender population both male and female adult offenders exhibit similar drug and alcohol misuse levels.
• The Dublin probation regions exhibited the highest levels of overall misuse among their offender populations at 91%.
• Almost 21% of offenders were currently misusing two or more substances and over 9% were misusing at least 3 substances. This includes misuse of alcohol.
• This study identified a considerable link between drug misuse and the current index offence committed. Based on the Probation Officers’ professional judgment, for 74% of drug-misusing offenders on supervision misuse was linked to their current offending.
• In previous research carried out by the Probation Service in the Dublin Metropolitan Area in 1998, 55-60% of offenders were drug abusers. This research highlights that drug misuse is prevalent among more than 75% of offenders on supervision nationwide.
• Almost 36% of offenders in the 35+ age group misused drugs only.
• The majority of current opiate misusers were male and between the ages of 18-34 at 63.8%.
• The majority of misusers of prescribed drugs were also males in the 18-34 age-group at 72.6%. However, notably 10% of the misusers were female in the 25-34 age-group.
• The Dublin regions are proportionally highest for current opiate misuse, current prescription drugs and also current stimulant misuse.
• Alcohol is the individual substance that is most commonly misused by offenders on probation supervision nationally. The misuse of ‘alcohol only’ is highest in the South West and the West, North West and Westmeath regions.
• 33.5% of offenders identified as alcohol misusers were described as problematic at the time the survey was conducted. 79.7% were described as misusers in the past only. 27.1% were described as problematic misusers both currently and in the past.
• 71% of alcohol-misusing offenders had their misuse linked to the current offence committed.
• Drug-misuse linked to the offence is more pronounced in the younger age categories in this survey. Each of the age categories 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 have in excess of 70% link to offending while the 45-54 and 55-64 age groups have a 50% or less link to offending.
• The majority of drug-related offences were either for Drug Offences (31.8%) or acquisitive crimes such as Theft (32.8%).
• The majority of alcohol related offences were crimes against the person and public order offences at almost 40%.
• 41.7% of the total drug-misusing population was currently engaged in drug treatment services.
• Half of the offenders within this survey had undergone drug treatment, in its various forms, in the past.
• 72% of drug misusers were on methadone maintenance programmes

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