Use and misuse of prescription drugs among police detainees


This paper examines patterns of prescription drug use among a sample of police detainees recruited for the 2016 Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program. Forty percent of police detainees engaged in non-medical use of prescription drugs. Those who reported non-medical use were more likely than other detainees to have obtained their income from illegitimate sources in the past 30 days, to consider themselves drug dependent and to have used an illicit drug in the last 30 days or 12 months. Prescription drug use was also associated with property offences. These findings show that non-medical use disproportionately affects police detainees. Risks also exist for first response officers who may need to respond to detainees intoxicated by these substances. To disrupt pharmaceutical diversion processes occurring, further research is needed on where, how and why people involved in non-medical use of prescription drugs obtain their medication. Research into the relationship between crime and prescription drug use will also permit a greater understanding of the impact these drugs have on the community.