Psychoactive Substance Use and Perception of Mental Health Status in Inmates of Two Portuguese Prisons

Mónica Marinho, Paulo Vitoria


Aim: To describe patterns of and associations between psychoactive substance use and perception of mental health status amongst male prisoners. Method: Participants consisted of 60 male prisoners, with a mean age of 38.5 (SD = 11.0). A standardised interview with three sections was carried out: 1) socio-demographic variables, 2) perception of mental health status by CORE-OM, 3) evaluation of psychoactive substance use and dependence (tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs). Results: The majority of the participants reported using a named psychoactive substance during the current detention period. Substance use and addiction tended to be higher amongst the younger men and those who had achieved a higher education. A minority perceived their mental health as good. Self-reported low and mild impairment of mental health is higher in participants who achieved a higher education level and, moderate and severe impairment is higher in lower educated participants. The perceived impairment appeared to be less severe in smokers and alcohol users. Conclusion: This study highlights the need for a better understanding of the underlying causes and subsequent consequences of the high prevalence of inmate’s psychoactive substances use, as well as the better perception of mental health status in those who consume psychoactive substances.


inmate’s health; psychoactive substance use in prisons; perceived mental health status of prisoners; CORE-OM