Substance users are more likely to have co-occurring health problems, and this pattern is intensified among those involved with the criminal justice system. Interview data for 1977 incarcerated men in 5 states from the Multi-site Family Study on Incarceration, Parenting, and Partnering that was conducted between December 2008 and August 2011 were analyzed to compare pre-incarceration substance use patterns and health outcomes between men who primarily used marijuana, primarily used alcohol, primarily used other drugs, and did not use any illicit substances during that time. Using regression modeling, we examined the influence of substance use patterns on physical and mental health. Primary marijuana users comprised the largest portion of the sample (31.5%), closely followed by nonusers (30.0%), and those who primarily used other drugs (30.0%); primary alcohol users comprised the smallest group (19.6%). The substance user groups differed significantly from the nonuser group on many aspects of physical and mental health. Findings suggest that even among justice-involved men who are not using “hard” drugs, substance use merits serious attention. Expanding the availability of substance use treatment during and after incarceration might help to promote physical and mental health during incarceration and reentry.
Nikki Freeman, Justin Landwehr, Tasseli McKay, James Derzon, Anupa Bir
Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, September 6, 2017