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Background: Few studies have examined the relation between impulsivity and drug involvement with prison inmates, in spite of their heavy drug use. Among this small body of work, most studies look at clinically relevant drug dependence, rather than drug use specifically.

Method: N = 242 adult inmates (34.8% female, 52% White) with an average age of 35.58 (SD = 9.19) completed a modified version of the 15-item Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS) and measures assessing lifetime alcohol, opiate, benzodiazepine, cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogen, and polysubstance use. Lifetime users also reported the frequency of use for the 30 days prior to incarceration.

Results: Impulsivity was higher among lifetime users (versus never users) of all substances other than cannabis. Thirty day drug use frequency was only related to impulsivity for opiates and alcohol.

Discussion: This study extends prior work, by showing that a lifetime history of non-clinical substance use is positively associated with impulsivity among prison inmates. Implications for drug interventions are considered for this population, which is characterized by high rates of substance use and elevated impulsivity.

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