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How often are arrests linked to substance abuse?

June 15, 2011
by News release
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Washington, D.C. – Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has released the2010 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Annual Report (ADAM II). The
2010 report reveals that in the 10 participating cities/counties, more than half of adult males arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies tested positive for at least one drug. Positive test results ranged from 52 percent in Washington, D.C., to 83 percent in Chicago, Illinois, illustrating the link between drug use and crime and highlighting the importance of Obama Administration drug policies designed to break the cycle of drug use, arrest, incarceration, release, and re-arrest.

Some key findings from the report:

  • The percent of arrestees testing positive for any drug ranged from a low of 52 percent in Washington, DC, to a high of 83 percent in Chicago.

  • Fewer adult male arrestees are testing positive for cocaine. Nine of 10 sites showed a significant decrease in 2010, compared to 2007.

  • Sacramento (33 percent) and Portland (20 percent) showed the highest rates of adult males testing positive for meth in 2010.

  • An increasing number of arrestees are testing positive for marijuana in Charlotte, New York City, and Sacramento in 2010, compared to 2009.

  • Four of 10 cities surveyed (Charlotte, Indianapolis, Portland, and Sacramento) showed significant increases in the percentage of arrestees testing positive for opiates in 2010, compared to 2008, while Chicago dropped by nearly half over the same period. Two of these cities (Indianapolis and Portland) also showed significant increases in oxycodone/hydrocodone positive rates.

“These findings illustrate why we must approach our Nation’s drug problem as a public health and safety problem,” said Kerlikowske. “Drug addiction is too often the root of crime in our communities. Supporting innovative initiatives that divert non-violent offenders into treatment instead of jail and expand treatment access for incarcerated individuals can help break the vicious cycle of drug use and crime, reduce recidivism, and make our communities healthier and safer.”

ADAM II is a unique Federal data collection program that shows drug use patterns among arrestees. In each of the 10 U.S. counties included in the program, data are collected from adult male arrestees, through voluntary interviews and drug tests, within 48 hours of arrest. The sample is drawn from all individuals arrested, not just those arrested on drug charges. The results provide vital information regarding drug use behavior among booked arrestees and the nexus between drug use and criminal behavior for local communities. Tests are conducted to detect the presence of the following drugs: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/methamphetamine, Darvon, PCP, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates. ADAM II does not test for alcohol.

To address drug use among the criminal population, President Obama’s National Drug Control Strategy provides robust community support for drug treatment alternatives to incarceration, court-based programs that refer non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail, expansion for substance abuse treatment for adults under community supervision, and offender reentry services. Additionally, in August of 2010, the President signed into law the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduces the disparity in the amounts of powder cocaine and crack cocaine required for the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences and eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine.

Overall drug use in the United States has dropped substantially over the past 30 years. In response to comprehensive efforts to address drug use at the local, state, Federal, and international levels, the number of Americans using illicit drugs today is roughly half the rate it was in the late 1970s. More recently, there has been a 46 percent drop in current cocaine use among young adults (age 18 to 25 years) over the past five years, and a 68 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006. To build on this progress and support a public health approach to drug control outlined in the Strategy, the Obama Administration has committed over $10 billion for drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for addicts.

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