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Cannabis Withdrawal Among Indigenous Inmates in North Queensland



In north Queensland (Qld), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have high rates of cannabis use and dependence. Preliminary data from Cape York show that 53% of males and 23% of females aged 16-40 years are using cannabis, higher use than in the general Australian population.

Cannabis use is associated with criminal offending and incarceration, and evidence suggests that 'stressing out' occurs when cannabis is not available or upon entry to prison, and can lead to violence and intimidation. Preliminary data suggests that the 'stressing out' experience represents symptoms of cannabis withdrawal, a recognised consequence of cannabis dependence. Withdrawal-related suffering is of social and clinical significance, particularly as it may represent a barrier to reducing cannabis use.

In this study, cannabis withdrawal symptoms were investigated in new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male inmates at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre, and new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female inmates at Townsville Womens Correctional Centre, in north Qld. The study aims to:

The development, delivery, and uptake of resources will be evaluated using process evaluation. This study has potential for significant benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Qld's prisons and remote communities. The study will address an unmet need for support to help manage withdrawal symptoms in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, as well as provide much-needed data on mental health impacts of heavy cannabis use in this population. The proposed research will also develop a culturally-validated measure to assess cannabis withdrawal, which is critical to enhance prison screening and to develop targeted community-based interventions.

James Cook University's abstract


Bernadette Rogerson
Project Manager
James Cook University
Ph: (07) 4042 1657
Fax: (07) 4042 1675

Related publications

Rogerson B, Copeland J, Buttner P, Bohanna I, Cadet-James Y, Sarnyai Z, Clough AR (2013)

An exploratory study of cannabis withdrawal among Indigenous Australian prison inmates: study protocol.

BMJ Open; 3(5): e002951

Retrieved 17 May 2013 from


Last updated: 6 March 2018
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Australia's National Research Centre on AOD Workforce Development National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre National Drug Research Institute