New Psychoactive Substances, impulsivity and violence in prison: What is the link?

Mason, Rachael, Smith, Michelle, Roberts, Amanda and Onwuegbusi, Tochukwu (2020) New Psychoactive Substances, impulsivity and violence in prison: What is the link? In: Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, Cancelled Conference (due to COVID-19) 16th-18th June 2020, St John's Hotel, Solihull.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Objectives: Exploring prevalence of new psychoactive substance (NPS) use, and links to impulsivity and violence within prison.

Design: Quantitative self-report questionnaire administered anonymously to gain prisoner perspectives, exploring substance use, violent behaviour, perceptions on causes of violence, and impulsivity.

Methods: Opportunistic sample of 158 adult males from one category C prison in England. Data collection took place in February and April 2019 during lockdown for staff training and education sessions. The questionnaires were based on previous national prison surveys and the SURPS impulsivity measure. Data were analysed in R Studio using tests of difference, logistic and linear regression, and analysis of covariance.

Results: NPS were the most prevalent substances used. Impulsivity was the only significant predictor of NPS use; higher impulsivity scores increased probability of use. NPS users were significantly more likely to report acts of violence against prisoners, prison staff and property compared to non-substance users; and against other prisoners and property compared to traditional substance users. Over 70% of violence was perceived as related to NPS use; this was significantly attributed to social factors rather than behavioural changes related to NPS use. No main or interaction effects were found across factors affecting ratings.

Conclusions: NPS use within prisons is rising and measures of impulsivity may be a useful screening method for early identification of risk. Treatment programme design for NPS users should address impulsivity and aggression, whilst incorporating social factors and the social climate of rehabilitation. Further research is required to account for study limitations of sample and methodology.

Keywords:NPS, New Psychoactive Substances, Prisons, Violence, Impulsivity
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:40944
Deposited On:09 Jul 2020 08:44

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