Italy Country Drug Report 2019

Drug use and responses in prison

Since 2008, the provision of healthcare services in prisons has been the responsibility of the Italian regions, under the overall coordination of the Ministry of Health. In 2017, approximately one quarter of inmates had a diagnosed drug-related disorder, a proportion that has remained stable over the years.

The Guidelines for National Health Service Interventions for the Protection of the Health of Persons Incarcerated or Institutionalised within the Prison System and Minors Subject to Criminal Proceedings and Penalties identify strategies for prevention and care, as well as organisational models for the restructuring of existing prison services to meet the same essential levels of care that have been adopted for the general population. These guidelines reiterate that the public drug dependency service units should provide these services inside institutions, in collaboration with the local health authorities (ASL) and the network of health and social services engaged in demand reduction. To implement the guidelines, cooperation between the Department of Prison Administration with the Regions and ASL has been enhanced.

In the case of drug-dependent prisoners, the guidelines recommend referring the person either to special sections with a less restrictive approach and a specific drug treatment programme or to special hospital units for withdrawal treatment.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.