Cannabis use, dependence and withdrawal in indigenous male inmates




Bernadette Rogerson, Susan P. Jacups, and Nerina Caltabiano

Journal of Substance Use

August 26, 2014





Background: No studies have investigated cannabis withdrawal in indigenous or incarcerated populations, and there is currently no standard treatment for cannabis withdrawal in Australian prisons.


Aims: This cross sectional survey examines cannabis use, dependence and involuntary (abrupt cessation) withdrawal in incarcerated indigenous males for the purpose of improving clinical management.


Methods: 101 consenting inmates (1840 years) from an Australian correction centre were interviewed. Demographic characteristics, lifetime cannabis use (LCU), severity of dependence, cannabis withdrawal symptoms, psychological well-being and alcohol use were measured and compared using univariate and multivariate analyses.


Results: Cannabis withdrawal symptoms were reported in 57% of current cannabis users compared with 16% of non-users (p < 0.01), indicating detectable cannabis dependence and withdrawal in a unique indigenous inmate population. Multivariate analysis revealed statistically significant associations between LCU and cannabis dependence (OR = 8.1; 95% CI: 2.229.1) when controlling for psychological well-being and alcohol consumption.


Conclusions: Upon admission to a correction centre, cannabis users should be assessed and monitored for physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.


Implications: Routine cannabis withdrawal monitoring will maximise staff and inmate safety. This improvement to policy will ensure appropriate risk management of staff and inmates.






Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee