CDEWS Study Finds Buprenorphine and Antidepressants in Ohio Prison Population
The Community Drug Early Warning System (CDEWS), funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), provides timely information about emerging drug use in criminal justice populations in local communities by collecting and re-testing urine specimens already obtained and tested for a limited panel of drugs by criminal justice testing programs. CDEWS or local staff sample specimens that are ready to be discarded and send them de-identified to an independent laboratory for testing for an expanded panel of drugs. The CDEWS methodology has been implemented previously in five jurisdictions with non-prison populations (Wish et al., 2013; Wish et al., 2015). This report describes the first CDEWS study of prison inmates, conducted in the Belmont and Ross Correctional Institutions for adult males in Ohio. This report is the second of 4 reports that are part of the third CDEWS Study, CDEWS-3.
The most dramatic findings from this study involved the detection of two types of prescription drugs in both institutions, buprenorphine, a prescribed opioid used to treat substance use disorder for opioids, and antidepressants. Buprenorphine is not prescribed for treatment in these institutions and it is not clear how much of the antidepressants detected were prescribed by the physicians at the prison. While marijuana use was detected in these institutions, it is noteworthy that not a single specimen tested positive for a synthetic cannabinoid. In contrast to other criminal populations studied by CDEWS in other locations, there was no evidence of synthetic cannabinoid use to avoid detection by the prison’s drug testing program.
This study demonstrated that the CDEWS methodology could be adapted for prison settings. While the use of buprenorphine and marijuana was already being detected by these institutions’ testing programs, the extensive use of antidepressants uncovered may be a new finding.
Three prior CDEWS reports in other populations can be found at the ONDCP Obama White House archives under the heading: Community Drug Early Warning System.