Methadone is being administered to Canberra's prisoners at an alarming rate, with the territory's jail continuing to have the highest use of the heroin-replacement drug.
The latest national data, which provides a snapshot of use from last year, reveals that 114 prisoners, or just under a quarter of the entire prison population in Canberra, are on daily methadone treatment.
While this represents a small drop from the 123 inmates on treatment in 2017, it continues the serious spike observable since 2014, when the number of methadone users within the jail rose above 100 for the first time.
The ACT also rates just below NSW for the rate of pharmacotherapy drugs - replacing illegal drugs with legally prescribed substances - being administered across the broader Canberra community.
Pharmacotherapy treatment is often used to reduce a client's cravings for opioids like heroin to improve their physical and mental health, and to reduce drug-related crime.
There are 24 pharmacotherapy clients per 10,000 people in the ACT. Only NSW is higher, with 26 clients per 10,000 people.
There are 779 people in the ACT on daily methadone treatment - two more than last year - of which 114 are in prison.
Methadone use within the jail - at soporific dosage rates which Winnunga Indigenous health leader Julie Tongs describes as "liquid handcuffs" - went under close scrutiny after the death of 26-year-old Indigenous remandee Steven Freeman in a cell in May 2016.
Mr Freeman was 26 years old when he was remanded in custody. He was admitted to the jail's methadone program and died two days later from a toxic overdose.
In May 2017, 29-year-old Canberra prisoner Mark O'Connor was found dead in his cell from a cocktail of legal and illegal drugs.
Ms Tongs said she failed to understand why, compared with other prisons around Australia, such a large proportion of the Canberra prison's inmates were on the methadone program.
"Methadone is highly addictive; once people get on it they very rarely come off," she said.
"It appears to be used to keep the population sedated rather than looking at ways of creating active programs and giving people meaningful work."
Just over 12 months ago, the ACT Human Rights Commission released a report into the jail's opioid replacement treatment program.
It noted that "the level of prescribing of methadone [in jail] . . . is substantially higher than in other jurisdictions".
It also described how prisoners who are opioid dependent "may incur debts to other prisoners in order to maintain their habit and may be subject to violence and stand-over demands as a result".