24th November 2004

Cranstoun Drug Services and the European Network on Drugs and Infections Prevention in Prison launched an in-depth report entitled “Substitution Treatment in European Prisons” in the European Parliament on November 24. Focusing on the policies and practices of 18 European countries, the report highlights the obstacles to introducing substitution treatment into prisons and the difficulties that prisoners encounter when attempting to access services. Overall, availability, management and evaluation of substitution treatment in prison settings were seen as lagging behind those services offered in community settings. Interviews were conducted in two prisons per country with prison and medical staff and with focus groups of inmates to assess their views on service provision. Research objectives included initiating an exchange of information between medical staff and health care workers in prisons and identifying good practice in the field of substitution treatment. The study recommends that the specific treatment needs of women be met according to the severity of their drug use (as there are fewer women in prison in comparison to men, drug use among women prisoners in many countries tends to be of the severely dependent type). It found that offenders participating in substitution treatments tend to display lower readmission rates overall. The scope of substitution treatment for opiate-dependent persons, introduced some forty years ago, has extended across Europe, according to the study: only Greece and Sweden currently do not offer treatment in prisons. Partly funded by the European Commission, the project targeted the 15 EU Member States (prior to the May expansion) and Poland , Slovenia and the Czech Republic .

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Author: rmchristen