Homicide and Psychoactive Substance use among Offenders in a Nigerian Prison.
Background: Information from previous reports tend to suggest that drug use is associated with crime, particularly with homicide offences. Data on drug use among homicide offenders are scarce in Nigeria. Aim: The study was carried out to determine the relationship between psychoactive substance use and homicide. Method: All the 66 homicide offenders in a Nigerian prison and 66 matched control prisoners, charged for nonviolent offences were studied. Information on socio-demographic variables and drug use was obtained from all the respondents by interview. Results: Before imprisonment, the homicide offenders reported the use of alcohol, cannabis and stimulants with rates of 34.6%, 15.2% and 1.5% respectively. During imprisonment, lower rates of use were reported for
these substances. These were 6.1% 1.5% and 6.1% respectively. The consolidated drug use rate among the non-violent prisoners (74.2%) was
significantly higher than for the homicide defendants (53.0%), before imprisonment (p<0.05). No significant difference was observed in the drug use rates between the two groups during imprisonment. Conclusion: The present data has not shown that drug use is more associated with being accused of homicide than being accused of nonviolent offences, within the context of the limitations of the study. The higher rates reported for alcohol and cannabis compared with the other substances suggest that they may be more associated with crimes generally, irrespective of the gravity. More studies are required.