PriSUD-Norway: Diagnosing and treating substance use disorders in Norwegian prisons

 

A prison stay should be regarded as a window of opportunity for people with substance use disorders (SUD): screening and diagnosis should take place and evidence-based treatment should be offered. The result would be better mental and physical health, improved quality of life and better life expediencies in the prison population.

In reality however, a prison stay remains a black box. Even though research has documented the prison population in terms of their situation before prison, and their risks following release, none has focused on the treatment situation within prison. Hence, we do not know if prisoners are adequately screened and diagnosed with SUD when they enter prison, whether people diagnosed with SUD have access to treatment in prison, or what their treatment outcomes are post-release.

To ensure efficient, high-quality treatment services to people with substance use disorders (SUD) in prison, PriSUD-Norway will be the first longitudinal Norwegian study investigating the epidemiology of people with SUD; from the time before prison, during prison and after release. In order to reach the ambitious aims of the PriSUD-Norway study, we have put together a multidisciplinary research group who will analyze survey data and a wide range of existing, high quality national registry data available for research.

The overall objective of PriSUD-Norway is to ensure high-quality screening and treatment for people with substance use disorders (SUD) in prison. The project is organized in three main Work Packages, focusing on: 1) procedures for screening, receiving and continuing SUD-treatment during imprisonment, 2) engagement in three different types of drug treatment for prisoners with SUD organized by the specialized health services, and 3) investigate post release outcomes related to the type of treatment provided.

The detection of SUDs, accompanied by adequate treatment and the introduction of harm reduction measures, will significantly improve the overall health status of the communities from which the prisoners come and to which they return.

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