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Substance use and at-risk mental state for psychosis in 2102 prisoners: the case for early detection and early intervention in prison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-409
JournalEarly Intervention in Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date2 May 2016
Accepted/In press28 Mar 2016
E-pub ahead of print2 May 2016
PublishedJun 2018


  • Substance use and at-risk_COOPER_Firstonline2May2016_GREEN AAM

    substance_use_REVISION.pdf, 443 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:03 May 2016

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Cooper, J. , Jarrett, M. , Forrester, A. , di Forti, M. , Murray, R. M., Huddy, V. , Roberts, A. , Phillip, P. , Campbell, C. , Byrne, M. , McGuire, P. , Craig, T. and Valmaggia, L. (2018), Substance use and at‐risk mental state for psychosis in 2102 prisoners: the case for early detection and early intervention in prison. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 12: 400-409., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions

King's Authors


AIM: Prisoners exhibit high rates of substance use and mental health problems. In the present study, we sought to gain a detailed understanding of substance use amongst young prisoners to inform early detection and early intervention strategies in a prison setting.

METHODS: This is a cross-sectional study of 2102 prisoners who were screened by the London Early Detection and Prevention in Prison Team (LEAP). Data on the use of substances were collected including age of first use, recent use, duration of use and poly-drug use. The Prodromal Questionnaire - Brief Version was used to screen for the at-risk mental state.

RESULTS: We found high rates of lifetime and recent use and low age of first use of a number of substances. We also found strong associations between substance use and screening positive for an at-risk mental state. Logistic regression analysis confirmed that use of any drug in the last year, poly-drug and early use, as well as heavy alcohol use, were related to an increased risk of screening positive.

CONCLUSIONS: Substance use in the prison population is not only widespread and heavy but is also strongly linked with a higher risk of developing mental health problems. The need for early detection and early intervention in prison is discussed.

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