Substance use and misuse is highly prevalent in offenders, and a significant proportion of convicted offenders continue to use controlled substances during incarceration. Few studies have focused on the identification of variables, especially personality characteristics, that may be predictive of institutional substance use. The purpose of this study is to assess the validity of the Substance Use Risk Profile (SURP) personality typology in a sample of male offenders and to determine whether it may have utility in identifying offenders at risk for substance use during incarceration.
A total of 118 offenders across all provincial and federal institutions in New Brunswick, Canada completed questionnaires assessing personality, mental health symptoms, substance use motives, and substance use.
Latent class cluster analysis revealed the presence of three distinct clusters of offenders based on severity of substance use, personality, and mental health symptoms. Survival analysis indicated a significant effect of levels of sensation seeking, a trend of cluster membership, and anxiety sensitivity on days until first institutional substance use. Conclusion: High levels of sensation seeking and low anxiety sensitivity appear to indicate increased risk for substance misuse in this population.