Co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders among male detainees in Italy

Massimiliano Piselli, Sandro Elisei, Nicola Murgia, Roberto Quartesan*, Karen M Abram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper presents data on the prevalence of co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders among newly imprisoned males in Italy. Interviewers conducted semi-structured clinical interviews with n = 302 male detainees seven days after their admission to the prison of Perugia from August 2005 through July 2006. Over half of male detainees (54.3%) had either a substance use disorder or another psychiatric disorder. One of every five detainees (20.9%) had comorbid substance use and psychiatric disorders. Compared to detainees with psychiatric disorder only, substance use disorder only, or no disorder, detainees with comorbid substance use and psychiatric disorders were significantly more likely to have severe impairment in the areas of employment, substance abuse, family and social functioning, and psychiatric symptoms. Findings underscore the need for careful diagnostic screening at intake, access to treatment during detention, and an effective transition to services at the time of release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009


  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Detainees
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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