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Home > A survey of drug abusers in Irish prisons.

O'Mahony, Paul (1984) A survey of drug abusers in Irish prisons. Prison Information Bulletin , 3 , pp. 11-14.

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This article reported on research, carried out by the author and Thomas Gilmore, on all traceable addicts in Dublinís male and female committal prisons and in its male juvenile detention centre in 1981. In all, 39 serious drug misusers were traced - 6.5% of the total population in the prisons at that time. Of these, 34 agreed to be interviewed for the purposes of the study. Of this group, there were 23 daily users of heroin, 5 daily users of other narcotic analgesics, 1 barbiturate addict and 5 regular users of LSD. Their average age was 22 years, and the majority had criminal convictions that pre-dated their drug addiction. The research revealed, in most cases, backgrounds of severe social, economic and educational disadvantage, along with almost inevitable parental neglect. Less than one third of the group had experienced continuous full-time employment for longer than one year. Drug use was mainly restricted to opiates, with heroin being the drug of choice in most cases.

The author suggested that fashion, conformity and peer pressure played crucial roles in the rapid spread of heroin use. He stated that, in his view, prison was not the most appropriate environment for treating drug misusers, since an important requirement for treatment was that the individual be in a position to make a real choice about whether or not to use drugs.


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